- Ari Bermansenior writer at Mother Jones, reporting fellow at The Nation Institute and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”
- Briahna Graysenior politics editor at The Intercept.
- Linda Sarsourdirector of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change.
- Ana Maria Archilaco-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.
- Glenn GreenwaldPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
- Carol Andersonchair of the Department of African American Studies at Emory University and author of “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.” Her previous books include “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” which won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
- Rashad Robinsonexecutive director of Color of Change.
- Betsy Reededitor-in-chief of The Intercept.
- Mehdi Hasancolumnist for The Intercept and host of their “Deconstructed” podcast. He’s also host of “UpFront” at Al Jazeera English.
- Naomi Kleinsenior correspondent at The Intercept and author of “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists.”
- Ryan GrimWashington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept.
- Ralph Naderlongtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate.
- Allan Nairnactivist and award-winning investigative journalist.
- Gyasi Rossauthor, speaker, lawyer and storyteller. He is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and host of the podcast Breakdances with Wolves.
- Aída Chávezjournalist with The Intercept based in Washington, D.C., covering Congress and the impact of public policy on diverse communities.
- Lee Fanginvestigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics.
- Norman Solomonnational coordinator of RootsAction and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
- Alexandria Ocasio-CortezNew York congressmember-elect.
- Jenni Monetindependent award-winning journalist who writes about indigenous rights. She is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna.
- John Nicholspolitical writer for The Nation. His most recent book is titled “Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America.”
On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, as polls closed around the country, Democracy Now! & The Intercept teamed up to host a live midterm election night special.
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh were joined by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill to host a rolling roundtable discussion with guests across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: From New York, a 2018 midterm election special, brought to you by Democracy Now! and The Intercept.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A month ago—right?—they were talking about this blue wave. Whoa! You don’t hear about the blue wave.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: We are fighting so that we can get to 100 percent renewable energy in 10 years, because our lives depend on it.
SEN. TED CRUZ: President Trump is here endorsing and supporting my campaign, and I look forward to campaigning alongside him in 2020 for his re-election.
MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM: Us winning tonight, I think, will send a message to Mr. Trump, and Mr. DeSantis, as well, that the politics of hatred and of division, of separation, that they’ve come to an end. At least in this election that’s what we’re going to show.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, a 6-hour special on what’s been described as one of the most important midterm elections in U.S. history. All that and more, coming up.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, along with The Intercept, in this special 6-hour midterm election broadcast. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill.
Tonight we bring you the results of today’s historic midterm elections, widely seen as a referendum on President Trump. The balance of both the House and the Senate hang in the balance, as Democrats are trying to ride a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to seize control of Congress. This election could also bring historic firsts for women, people of color, LGBT people and Native Americans. The percentage of white male candidates is the lowest it’s been in the last four elections. Among the closely watched elections are—well, we’re going to be bringing you a number of those elections. We have a roundtable, rolling roundtable, around the country and in different parts of the world, as we bring you this historic moment.
Among the closely watched races, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams could become the first black woman governor in U.S. history. In Vermont, Democrat Christine Hallquist could become the first openly transgender governor in U.S. history—even if she doesn’t win, she is a first—while in Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis could be the nation’s first openly gay male governor. House candidates Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas could be the first Native American women in Congress. And in California, Republican Young Kim could become the first Korean-American woman in Congress.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: It’s just after 7:00 Eastern time, and polls are beginning to close across parts of the Eastern United States. At 6:00 p.m., they closed across most of Indiana and the eastern half of Kentucky. Just moments ago, polls closed in New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, western Kentucky and the rest of Indiana and most of Florida. In a half an hour, at 7:30 Eastern time, polls will close in three more states: Ohio, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Even before the polls opened this morning, at least 36 million Americans voted early in this midterm election, and that number is expected to increase to around 40 million once all mail-in ballots are accounted for. That’s a 45 percent increase in early voting numbers compared to the 2014 midterms. Early voting participation is particularly high among young people, including in states with close races and where Democrats are hoping to flip seats, such as in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada and Texas.
Almost 5 million Texans voted early, more than the total number who voted in the 2014 midterms. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is facing a closely watched challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
There was also a surge in early voting in Nevada, where recent polls show Republican incumbent Dean Heller leading Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen by only 2 percentage points.
Early voter turnout also shattered records in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams is hoping to defeat her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in a race that has been marred by voter suppression, false claims and racist attacks.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Long lines and voting irregularities are also being reported around the country today. By midafternoon, a coalition of voting rights groups known as Election Protection reported a hotline that it operates for problems at the polls, that that had fielded more than 17,000 calls.
Voters in Georgia are reporting extremely long lines at polling stations, with a 3-hour average wait time to vote in the Atlanta metro area.
There were also reports of broken voting machines in New York and Arizona, where civil rights groups sent a letter earlier today demanding that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the county recorder extend voting hours at polling locations throughout Maricopa County.
In North Dakota, Native American voters were forced to contend with a new voter ID law that requires North Dakotans to provide a state or tribal ID with a residential address in order to vote. Tribal leaders in North Dakota have scrambled to print at least 3,500 new tribal IDs for Native Americans living on reservations.
Meanwhile, after widespread criticism, the U.S. Border Patrol was forced to cancel so-called crowd control exercises that it planned to hold today, Election Day, near a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso, Texas—the hometown of Senate candidate and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by a roundtable of guests, which will change throughout the evening. Yep, folks, we are here from 7 p.m. until at least 1 a.m. Eastern time. Here in New York, Briahna Gray is with us. She’s senior politics editor at The Intercept. She’ll be heading off to one of the victory parties of the candidates soon. Linda Sarsour will be joining us, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington. Also here in New York, Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, reporting fellow at The Nation Institute and author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. In Washington, D.C., Ana María Archila is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. And via Democracy Now! video stream from Brazil, Glenn Greenwald joins us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
We’re going to begin with Ari, because, well, the polls are just beginning to close, and sometimes even when they say that a state will close, they’re going to be held open because of the wait. I mean, I went to vote this morning here in New York City, and two of the three scanning machines were broken. It was pouring rain. At 11:00 in the morning, the line was out of the building. Ari, how typical is this? Just polling people at Democracy Now!, one after another person said at least one to two scanning machines were broken. One of our colleagues said she voted in Brooklyn. She waited for almost two hours. This is in the middle of the day. It’s not after work, which I can only imagine what will happen.
ARI BERMAN: It was very typical, and not just for New York, honestly, but all around the country we saw this kind of thing happening. And it exposed one good thing and one bad thing. The one good thing was that it meant that there was high turnout, that people were voting in record numbers all across the country. The bad thing was that it exposed America’s terrible election infrastructure and the fact that people were just not prepared for this level of turnout.
I went to one of those election call centers, Jeremy, in midtown New York, where there were a bunch of lawyers fielding calls, and they were talking to voters all across the country. And they basically were saying the same thing: Nobody was prepared. Like, we’ve had such a long time to prepare for this election, and yet we saw that voting machines weren’t plugged in in Georgia, that polling places didn’t open on time in Arizona and Indiana. And then, on top of that, you had all of these new restrictions, where thousands of people were on pending registrations in Georgia, and they showed up, and they didn’t know which ballot they could cast. And in North Dakota, people didn’t know if their tribal IDs would be accepted.
So, there were a lot of new restrictions on top of the already broken infrastructure of our country. But what we saw is that a lot of people want to vote. That’s very, very clear, that this is historic turnout for a midterm election. At the same time, people experienced a lot of problems at the polls, all across the country, that were very concerning.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ari, I wanted to ask you about this whole issue of early voting, because, clearly, early voting has helped to propel greater participation in those states that have it. New York state, amazingly, and especially New York City, the most populated city in the country, does not have early voting, so, therefore, everyone has to vote on Election Day, and yet one of the big issues that’s going to occur here in New York state is what—will the Senate, the state Senate, which has basically held back the possibility of early voting, change hands to Democratic—to the Democratic Party—because the Republicans have held control of the state Senate here for decades—and whether, finally, New York will get some early voting procedure in place like many other states have?
ARI BERMAN: Well, 37 states have early voting, but New York has no early voting. And the reason we vote on a Tuesday in November is because that’s when farmers brought their crops to the market in the 1800s. I mean, so we’re literally in an 18th century election system in New York.
And the reason why you have early voting is because a lot of people can’t vote on a Tuesday in November. If you’re out of town, it can be difficult to get an absentee ballot. If you’re working—a lot of people work during the day, and they can’t get off to be able to vote. Fifteen percent of people who didn’t vote in the last election said they didn’t vote because they couldn’t get off work or they didn’t have time. So, early voting gives people more time to participate. Governor Cuomo says he supports early voting. Maybe by his third term he will make this a priority.
I think that every time people go to vote in New York, there’s some sort of problem, whether the machines are broken or there’s long lines or, we saw in the last primary, people aren’t on the voting rolls. I think people think, “Oh, New York is this progressive state. It’s this blue state.” And that’s true to some extent. But our voting laws are, in many ways, worse than some of the most red states. We don’t have voter ID laws like Texas, but everything else that we have is worse than most states. So I’m hopeful that we’ll do something about that.
One of the things that I think is really important is that 15 states have Election Day registration, because a lot of people, for one reason or another, don’t get around to registering in time or have problems at the polls. And if you have Election Day registration, like Wisconsin has, where you’re from, Jeremy, those kind of problems at the polls can get worked out. If you’re purged for some reason or you didn’t register in time or you weren’t given an absentee ballot, you can show up and work out all that stuff. And that’s why states that have Election Day registration have voter turnouts of up to 15 percent higher than states that don’t. So, we know the kind of things that work. We’re just not doing them, either because of inertia or partisan politics.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, and, Ari, it’s not just that there are those mechanical problems that you described or as Juan describes in New York. Part of why you have these massive lines is because there is no early voting. You also have had a pretty concerted voter suppression campaign that’s being waged from the White House, but also many of Trump’s surrogates. To what extent do those efforts succeed, in the research that you’ve done? I mean, is this an effective campaign that the rightists and Trump and their allies are running right now, particularly to try to convince black voters that they’re not eligible to vote, or, in some states, misrepresenting what the law is on people with criminal convictions voting?
ARI BERMAN: Well, they wouldn’t be trying to do it, Jeremy, if they didn’t think it was effective. And, I mean, the data from a whole bunch of different states show that these laws have a suppressive effect on turnout. I mean, I was in Wisconsin on Election Day 2016. That was one of the states that passed a strict voter ID law. We learned after the election that tens of thousands of people were prevented from voting, disproportionately African Americans in cities like Wisconsin, that these new restrictions—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Milwaukee.
ARI BERMAN: Milwaukee, exactly—that these new restrictions had a suppressive impact. I looked at the data in Kansas, another big state, where Kris Kobach, who’s the secretary of state, is running for governor, like in Georgia, overseeing his own election. That voter ID law there led to a 2 percent drop in voter turnout, with the largest decreases among black voters, new voters and young voters, who are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. And a lot of these races are going to be 1 to 2 percent races.
I mean, it’s very hard to prohibit 10, 20 percent of the electorate from participating, unless you do what Florida does, which is ban ex-felons from voting, just keep an entire group from participating. That’s the way you can get the big suppressive numbers. But if you make a change here, a change there, what it’s going to do is it’s going to give you a big advantage in a close race. And that’s what they’re hoping in Georgia, in Kansas, in other states, that they know these races are going to be close, and they’re trying to get whatever advantage they can by manipulating the country’s voting laws.
AMY GOODMAN: I just came from Florida, where what you are talking about may well change today, right? Amendment 4: 1.4 million people—many of them have never served time in jail, though they may have been convicted of a felony—may well be able to vote again. It is considered the largest enfranchisement of people since women got the right to vote a century ago. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to ask Briahna Gray—you’ve been going around the country. You’ve been looking at a lot of races. What are some of the races that tonight you’re going to especially be focusing on?
BRIAHNA GRAY: Well, I’m particularly interested to see what happens with Democratic candidates in so-called Trump’s America. There’s been a lot of conversation about what it means to be Trump country and a way that the public has kind of essentialized those parts of the country as definitionally Trump voters. In fact, even talking about parts of America that were Obama-to-Trump districts tends to set certain people alight, because there is this way in which they’ve been kind of marginalized as deplorable country, and there’s a sense that the only thing that could appeal to voters in those areas is the same kind of racist rhetoric that Donald Trump has made his bread and butter.
But the reality is, and what I’ve seen on the ground is, that a progressive message has been very appealing to people in those areas. And when Ocasio-Cortez won, there was a lot of pushback that said, “Oh, well, she only won because she’s a brown woman in an increasingly brown district, and this was kind of an identity-based phenomenon.”
So, this election is going to be a test of sorts to see whether candidates who are running on Medicare for all and $15 minimum wage and other kinds of progressive policies, in Trump’s country, can appeal on that kind of a populist basis and show that the affinity for him wasn’t solely based on kind of a race-based rhetoric.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, too—I just noticed that CNN, in some of their exit polls—and we always have to be careful about exit polls, but they’re saying that three out of four voters, who they surveyed today, were saying that extremist violence was a factor in their decision on voting, which was, to me, an astonishing number.
BRIAHNA GRAY: It’s an interesting way to word that question, as well. A factor in which direction? It’s something that’s making them, I would presume, less likely to want to continue to vote for Republicans and to want to push back against them. So, I’m thrilled to hear it. Whether or not that actually manifests in good numbers for Democrats, I’m anxious to see.
AMY GOODMAN: Briahna, very quickly, you just mentioned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And we hope to be talking to you at her victory party. That one, there really is no contest there. And it’s amazing to see the Democratic Party now embrace her, right? She took on—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, some of Joe Crowley’s allies and family members have been waging an effort to try to get people to vote for him on the Working Families Party line in New York. So, I mean, that has—
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, that’s an important point—
JEREMY SCAHILL: That has happened.
AMY GOODMAN: —that there were two lines. He was running—right?—as a Democrat and the Working Families Party, and he wouldn’t drop—
BRIAHNA GRAY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —the Working Families Party line. But you’re going to be going there.
BRIAHNA GRAY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And for people who aren’t familiar with her case, who many call AOC, with the victory, he might have been the next speaker of the House, if the House flips and he was taking his seat.
BRIAHNA GRAY: Yeah, it was a huge upset for that reason, and also because she seemed to win largely because she was able to mobilize a network of—kind of progressive, grassroots networks, like the Our Revolution and other kinds of young people who were living in, frankly, newly gentrified areas in the Bronx and Queens. So, while there was this overwhelming narrative that it was just there’s more Hispanic voters and they’re coming out for a young Latina woman, the reality was that the parts of her district that were the most gentrified were actually the ones that went disproportionately to her, when you looked at the voting numbers after the fact.
So what you’re seeing is a movement that’s really driven by millennials. You’re seeing a movement that is driven perhaps by people who are concerned about the increasing gentrification in their areas. It’s hard to tease that apart. But the reality is that I think what’s most appealing about her is that she speaks directly to the interests that are shared across those groups. I think that young, newly gentrified millennials are deeply concerned about their college debt, for instance. I know that I am. And I think that they’re also concerned about issues that are relating to Black Lives Matter and universal healthcare and a broad slate of issues that speak directly to people’s material concerns.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, there was another aspect to the lead-up to this election, as the primary season was underway, and The Intercept, our politics team, did a lot of reporting on this. The institutional elite of the Democratic Party desperately tried to prevent the candidacies of some of the very people that Bri is talking about. And we shouldn’t forget that. And Joe Crowley in New York was one of the great representatives of that old guard institution.
You know, there also has been talk in Washington of Barbara Lee, who—the progressive member of Congress out of Berkeley, the only member of Congress to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force after 9/11, which was the effective blank check that Bush and Cheney were given by the Democrats and the Republicans—of Barbara Lee potentially running for House leadership. And the stakes today are very high for Nancy Pelosi. And the Nancy Pelosi-Chuck Schumer machine worked very diligently to try to prevent the kind of energy that Bri is talking about.
The Democratic Party is at a crossroads right now. You know, we are always told by politicians that whatever election happens to be in front of us is the most important election of our lifetime. With the racist neo-Nazi violence, with the murdering of Jews because they’re Jews, with the murdering of Africans Americans because they’re African Americans, with the president using the most powerful platform in the world to openly encourage violence, for a lot of young people who are just getting turned onto politics, it is life and death. And for many constituencies in this country—African Americans, in large numbers, women, the sick, people who have pre-existing conditions—it is life and death. It is as the politicians always use that stump line, but it’s true for many people here. And we shouldn’t forget that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer apparently didn’t want to ride that wave of both the positive energy, but the rage at this authoritarian administration.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We’re also joined by Linda Sarsour. And I wanted to ask you, Linda, in terms of this crossroads of the Democratic Party—it used to be the Democratic Party would back African-American candidates to run in African-American districts, or Latinos in Latino districts, but now we’re seeing a much more diversified field of candidates, and, of course, a younger field of candidates, in some cases, in the Democratic Party. Your assessment of what you’re seeing across the country?
LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, as one of the national organizers of the Women’s March back in 2017, immediately after the Women’s March, over 20,000 women across the country had registered to run for office—the largest numbers we’ve seen in probably our entire American history for women to run in this way. More than two-thirds of Democrats who ran in the primaries and won were women, many of whom women of color. So we’re going to see a lot of big wins, historic wins, that are going to happen across the country, from coast to coast.
What I’m seeing with the Democratic Party is that they’re finally reckoning with who they’re supposed to be. And those women that I’m talking about that won primaries across the country, including women like Ayanna Pressley, like Ilhan Omar, like Rashida Tlaib, like Jahana, these are women that ran on Medicare for all. They ran on a free public college education. They ran on abolish ICE. And people thought we were naive, you know, 15 years ago, when Muslim Americans and Southern border communities called for the abolition of ICE immediately after it was created 13 years ago. They thought we were crazy. And here are people winning elections across the country on these types of issues.
And those are the women that we’re going to see win tonight. And many of them are uncontested. You know, Ayanna is going to go to Congress. Jahana is pretty much going to Congress. Ilhan is definitely going to Congress. Rashida pretty much is going to Congress. So, it’s an exciting time. There’s a lot of things up in the air, but there are some particular races that, no matter what happens tonight, those women are going to Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you have these last three domestic terror—four domestic terror attacks that just took place. You have the African-American man and woman who were killed at Kroger’s grocery store in the St. Louis area—rather, in Louisville, Kentucky, area, in Jeffersontown. You have the worst anti-Semitic attack on U.S. soil; 11 Jewish worshipers were killed. You have what happened at the yoga studio on Friday afternoon. It was like an hour after President Obama spoke in Tallahassee. Of course, Tallahassee is where Andrew Gillum is running from. He’s the mayor of Tallahassee. And you have the letter bombs. So you have all of these domestic terror attacks.
But you have President Trump doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on terrorists coming in a caravan. When he’s asked for proof of this, he says he has no proof. But now we’re going to turn to President Trump—this is on the eve of the elections, right? This is at Joint Base Andrews, a base Jeremy and I know very well, having covered some interesting civil disobediences there over the years. But this is a reporter questioning Trump at Joint Base Andrews on Monday evening.
REPORTER: Mr. President, what proof do you have that people are intending to illegally vote in the midterms?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Just take a look—all you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people, a lot of people—my opinion and based on proof—that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.
AMY GOODMAN: “There will be prosecutions at the highest level.” And this is President Trump speaking, once again, last night—this is the eve of the elections—in Cleveland, Ohio.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As we speak, Democrats are openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to violate our laws and break into our country, and they want to sign them up for free welfare, free healthcare, free education and, of course, the right to vote. The right to vote! And it’s the right to vote that they like the best.
AMY GOODMAN: So, there’s President Trump lying once again, this time in Cleveland, Ohio. Let’s go to Washington, D.C., to Ana María Archila. She is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. Welcome back to Democracy Now! Well-known for putting her foot in the elevator door and not letting Senator Flake go on his way before challenging him around voting for Justice Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. But let’s talk about these threats that were issued: “We will prosecute you at the highest level” and, just this morning in El Paso, Border Patrol announcing they’re going to engage in crowd control exercises in El Paso, as people are voting. There was such an outcry, Border Patrol had to cancel this. Ana María?
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: Well, President Trump, from day one of his campaign, has made it a point to use anti-immigrant rhetoric and hate and fear to build up his political base and to mobilize the most right-wing, the most racist part of his base. And he’s using this rhetoric, evoking rhetoric from decades before. When he says the caravan is full of men of color who are violent, what he’s doing is really evoking the rhetoric that was used to justify lynchings in this country.
What he’s doing also is using this rhetoric to distract people from the fact that during his administration, he’s had—he and the Republicans have had their hands in our pockets every single day—when they tried to take our healthcare away, when they cut billions of dollars in taxes for billionaires and gutted a lot of our safety net, and when they’re trying to—instead of putting millions of dollars that were urgently needed for people in Puerto Rico, instead use those dollars to put children in cages, that’s what he’s trying to make people forget. And, of course, he’s trying to scare Latinos away by blaming Latino immigrants for every single ill in this country. It’s an old tactic that he has used again and again.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Ana María, the very controversial ad that the Trump—that the Republicans and Trump campaign put out, that even the major networks at a certain point refused to run, and Fox News—Fox News said that it was too objectionable to run, and dredging up an old case of an undocumented immigrant who had shot two police officers and linking him to the caravan.
ANA MARÍA ARCHILA: Yeah, I mean, President Trump wants the country to really believe that immigrants are criminals and that he will use and abuse the power of the executive branch to protect people from all of us. And it is such a dangerous rhetoric. It’s a rhetoric that also he has used to justify some of the worst policies of his administration: the Muslim ban, remember, January 27, just seven days after inauguration; the ending of DACA; the ending of the temporary protected status, which enabled millions of people to make this country home. And so, we know that this tactic of fear and hate worked for him in 2016.
But listen, I spend time in Florida, in Pennsylvania, on Long Island—you know, one of the epicenters of the anti-immigrant kind of experiment. And what I see is people of color, white people of good conscience saying, “This is not who we are. We belong together. We are all part of the fabric of this country. And we understand what’s at stake.” And that’s why you’re seeing millions and millions and millions of people voting early and millions of people voting today, in record numbers, almost presidential election-type numbers.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, it’s also—if we step back and sort of try to absorb the bigger picture, I think there’s a common misconception that Trump is just sort of saying things off the cuff, because, you know, Trump does do that from time to time. But many of the premier policy initiatives have been ideas kicking around on the margins of the GOP—or, at times, in the mainstream of the GOP.
And remember, Mike Pence is not just the wacky Christian supremacist who’s in the background here. Mike Pence was the chair of the Republican Study Group. Mike Pence is one of the most savvy, seasoned insider politicians in Washington. And he is very much driving the policy of this administration.
Now, yes, occasionally this administration and the president put Mike Pence or other officials in awkward positions because of the way that he says things. But there isn’t a single idea that Trump has floated that is not, in one way or another, rooted in the Republican Party’s vision for how this country is going operate.
And what we’re seeing, with the targeting of Muslims, with the targeting of the immigrant caravan, is testing out policies that the Republicans have long wanted to implement carte blanche in this country. And they’re going to go after the people, as authoritarians do, who they consider to be the most vulnerable or who they can convince their base are the people nipping at their heels, who are going to take what they take.
You know, if you look at the idea that Trump and his spokespeople have been talking about, or sort of talking around, the issue of posse comitatus, the prohibition of the U.S. military from engaging in domestic law enforcement actions, the Republicans, in the National Defense Authorization Act, under Obama, already chiseled that away. And it was one of the great failures of the Obama administration that when they were sued, by journalists and academics and intellectuals, some of them very prominent, the Obama administration intervened in those cases and forced a judge to lift the injunction that had temporarily paused implementation of the NDAA because of concerns that American citizens could be rendered, CIA black site style, or detained indefinitely without charge.
So, part of the story here has to be how this is really the mainstream of the Republican Party, and Trump was sort of a Trojan horse. Allan Nairn has said it on this show several times, and I think it’s one of the most accurate statements about this moment in history. Trump dragged the elite oligarchs of the Republican Party kicking and screaming into power. None of those other people would have won that election in 2016. You know, Trump had thoroughly dismantled their integrity in front of the eyes of the world. And also, they weren’t good candidates. Mike Pence wouldn’t have won. But for all practical purposes, on a policy level, Mike Pence is in charge of the country right now. And that should be frightening to anyone who is not a white male Christian supremacist who calls his wife “mother.”
AMY GOODMAN: By the way, Allan Nairn will be joining us, the investigative journalist, later in this evening’s broadcast. And we have this breaking tweet from the ACLU: “We’re asking the DOJ,” they say, “to investigate Border Patrol’s decision to hold a 'crowd control' exercise on Election Day less than a mile from the polling location in a historically Latinx community.” And we also know that Tim Kaine won his Senate seat—that’s no surprise—as did Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
ARI BERMAN: Well, can I just say something? I was looking at some of the results. And so, it’s interesting. In the returns in Florida, the Democrats are doing pretty well. But Amendment 4, which we talked about earlier, that would restore voting rights to ex-felons in Florida, that could restore voting rights to 1.4 million people, it is currently polling above the 60 percent threshold that it needs to pass. So, it needs to get 60 percent of the vote to pass, which is tough in a state like Florida, that is basically a 50-to-50 state. It is running ahead of Andrew Gillum. It is running ahead of Bill Nelson.
And it looks like—and this would be amazing to me—that a majority of Republicans might support this. Because we have Republicans across the country saying, “We need stricter voter ID laws. We need to purge the voting rolls. We need to cut early voting.” If at the same time they said, “You know what? We need to give people second chances. We need to let white Trump supporters vote in the same way that we let black or Latino or Asian-American ex-felons, that if you’ve paid your debt to society, you will get your right to vote back”—if a majority of Republicans in a place like Florida said that, I think it would transform the debate over criminal justice reform and voting rights in this country.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
ARI BERMAN: I think if you definitively say that we can go down to one of the most conservative states in the country, where Trayvon Martin was murdered, where so many abhorrent, horrible things have happened, we can say, “Even here, in Florida, under Rick Scott, we were able to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people.” So, to me, despite all of the talk of the candidates, some of these issues down ballot that haven’t gotten a lot of attention, that could send the biggest message. So, that’s some of the stuff that I’m looking at right now.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Bri, what are your thoughts on that? I’m curious, given the reporting that you’ve been doing lately.
BRIAHNA GRAY: On particularly felon disenfranchisement. I mean, it’s an issue that hits close to home, actually. My mother is from Ohio, which is a state that actually has some of the better laws with respect to felon disenfranchisement. When you’re out of jail, you can vote. But it’s also a state that has seen efforts by conservatives there to trick people into thinking that they can’t vote, by putting up billboards that basically threateningly say, you know, “Make sure you don’t commit a felony. Make sure you’re qualified to vote.”
And frankly, until I was researching an article on felon disenfranchisement, I didn’t realize that Ohio was a state where everyone can vote, because family lore has been that my grandfather, for a crime he committed as a young person, couldn’t vote. And, you know, he died last year thinking that he couldn’t vote, and hasn’t voted his entire life. And it was really kind of shocking to me to find this out in the course of this research.
So, you know, I am someone who is very preoccupied with this issue and the kind of multipronged attack on people’s ability to get to the polls, whether it’s registration issues, issues like you have in Texas where they make it a draconian process to even be qualified to register people to vote from district to district. And, you know, my hot take is that we need to start normalizing the conversation around compulsory voting. But I don’t know.
ARI BERMAN: That was a good point that you brought up in Texas. So, Texas has a voter registration law where you actually have to be deputized by the state to register voters. And you can only register voters in the counties you’re deputized in. So, Texas has 254 counties—
BRIAHNA GRAY: Right.
ARI BERMAN: —more counties than probably any other state.
LINDA SARSOUR: Any state, yeah.
ARI BERMAN: If you’re in Austin and you want to register voters, you have to be deputized. And then, if you want to register voters in San Antonio, which is an hour and 15 minutes away, you have to be deputized in San Antonio. You have to get redeputized every two years. And there are major penalties if you mishandle a voter registration form. If there’s any sort of information missing and you handle it, you could be sent to jail for voter fraud.
What that meant is that Beto O’Rourke’s campaign couldn’t register a single voter. For all the excitement—and we saw record voter registration—they couldn’t process a single voter registration form, because campaign workers, it’s way too risky to get them deputized, with the threat of prosecution.
So, right now in Texas, there are 3 million unregistered voters of color, 2.2 million unregistered Latinos, 750,000 unregistered African Americans. We’ll see what the margin of victory is in this race between Beto and Ted Cruz. But if it’s close, you’re going to have to ask yourself the question: What would it have meant if these 3 million unregistered voters of color, who, presumably, if they voted, would not have voted for Ted Cruz in large numbers—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, exactly.
ARI BERMAN: —what would have happened if we could have gotten them involved in the political process? And how do the laws themselves shape the outcomes?
Because what’s going to happen is, when it gets 11:00, everyone is going to make all of these projections, and they’re going to say, “This person won, this person won, this person won,” and they’re not going to say, “How did they win? Was it a fair election? Was the game rigged from the very beginning?”
And Democrats are going to be able to overcome some of these barriers in some places. They might overcome them in Wisconsin. They might overcome them in Florida. They might overcome them in Kansas. They’re not going to be able to overcome them everywhere. And I think Texas is one of those states where the voting laws itself helps keep that state red.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ari, we had talked, just about a week ago, about the situation in Dodge City, Kansas, where the only voting place in a city that’s 40 percent Latino was removed outside the city limits—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yes.
ARI BERMAN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and not even near a bus route. So, it was a clear effort there to make it as difficult as possible for the Latino voters of that city to vote.
ARI BERMAN: Yeah, they had a city that was 13,000 people, 61 percent Hispanic. Everyone voted downtown at the civic center. They moved it a mile outside of town to the Expo Center. If you looked at the footage—Rachel Maddow went there—it was basically an intersection where there was a lot of meatpacking trucks going—I mean, it was crazy. It did not look like the kind of place that you could vote. It was a mile from the closest bus stop.
Reporters actually went there today, and they wouldn’t let them in. They said that it was too disruptive for them to be there. And Matt Pearce of the L.A. Times was there, and he said what was interesting was that this town is 61 percent Hispanic, and nearly everyone voting was white. So, that’s why you do these kind of things. You don’t just happen to move a polling place a mile from public transportation in a city that’s 60 percent Latino.
AMY GOODMAN: OK. So we just got this tweet. This is from a television station, WSB-TV. And it says WSB-TV in “Metro Atlanta and north Georgia’s #1 source for breaking news,” ”GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp”—
ARI BERMAN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —”also had a voting issue today. When he tried to vote, his voter card said 'invalid.'” And it goes on to say, “Our [reporter] was with Kemp today as he voted and is covering the campaign all night.”
ARI BERMAN: That just says it all.
AMY GOODMAN: So, just—
ARI BERMAN: That just says it all.
JEREMY SCAHILL: The Democrats were hacking him as he voted.
LINDA SARSOUR: Basically.
AMY GOODMAN: So, just to be clear, Brian Kemp, who is the secretary of state, the person in charge of the elections in Georgia, who has actually attempted to disenfranchise—how many voters? I mean, the latest was something like 51,000, 53,000 voter forms he was holding back.
ARI BERMAN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And a judge ruled he had to let them go, 70 percent of them African-American.
ARI BERMAN: Yeah, well, I mean, there’s not just one thing he did. I mean, you have to kind of go through the list of things. So, when he became secretary of state, he purged 1.5 million people. So that’s one number. The state, under him, has closed 214 polling places. That’s another number.
In 2014, when Stacey Abrams was leading a voter registration group called the New Georgia Project, he blocked 40,000 registrations. People couldn’t even register that election. They only got registered after the election.
In 2016, a month before the election, he put 53,000 people on this, quote-unquote, “exact match” list. Eighty percent were people of color, 70 percent Hispanic. What he said is, “You can still cast a regular ballot if you’re on this suspended voter list.” Well, people showed up who were on that list, and they either weren’t on the rolls, to begin with, or they were forced to cast a provisional ballot, which may not count.
Even today, when people went to the secretary of state’s website in Georgia—and a lot of people are going to go there to check if they’re registered—there was still a press release falsely accusing the Georgia Democratic Party of cyber crimes, because people noticed that the system was so vulnerable. Georgia is one of only five states with no paper backups. So this entire election is taking place where, if it was hacked, we wouldn’t even necessarily know, because we have no paper receipts. He’s still lying about the Dems hacking into the registration system on the secretary of state’s website. So, there are so many inherent conflicts of interest here.
And then, of course, he shows up at the polls and doesn’t even have his valid voting card. You can imagine, if the secretary of state himself, who’s overseeing his own election, doesn’t have the right documents, what about the people that were sent lists—
LINDA SARSOUR: Exactly.
ARI BERMAN: —saying you might have a pending registration? You can only imagine what’s happening to those people.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Linda, I wanted to ask you, the—you have been under siege, being attacked consistently for some time, but it seemed like it flared up in an intense way very, very recently. And I wanted to ask you about this dynamic, that is not unique to this exact moment, but it was really intense, where you have a grotesque, horrid act of anti-Semitic violence—the attack on the Squirrel Hill Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh—and almost immediately you have right-wingers phoning 1995 for political outrage and saying, “Well, where are the Democrats condemning Louis Farrakhan?” And I noticed people were also starting to then link you into that and say, “How come one of the organizers of the Women’s March, she’s an anti-Semite, and none of you say anything about that?” But the sort of root of what’s behind that—and, you know, I view it, in a way, as akin to Trump using prominent black athletes as a way of attacking all black people, and using terms to describe those athletes that he reserves for black people. But it does seem like invoking Farrakhan is a twofer for the sort of neo-Nazi crowd, or even some of the mainstream of the Republican Party, where it’s like you not only have this black guy, but he’s a black Muslim. But you also were subjected to that. What is the strategy—because you’re on the receiving end of it—that you’ve sort of interpreted as being waged against you or weaponized against you?
LINDA SARSOUR: I’m interpreting it as being the Muslim counterpart to George Soros, so I’m like Sarsoros. That’s a new thing now, the hashtag #Sarsoros. Actually, credit to Murtaza from Intercept who made that up.
I think, you know, finding a symbol, somebody that represents everything neo-Nazis and kind of the right wing stands against: you know, a multicultural racial justice progressive Muslim woman in a hijab, who’s Palestinian, who’s a critic of the state of Israel, like who’s, you know, a person that has a clear track record in this country of two decades of human rights and social justice work for every single community that I can, you know, muster up. In any moment, you can find me in the right place at the right time. So I have become a symbol. I’m the symbol of the resistance. And if you remember, after the Women’s March, there was a poster that kind of went viral that said “We the People,” and it was a woman wearing an American flag hijab. And for some reason, I became synonymous with that symbol, that—what? I’m a white nationalist supremacist in a country who’s celebrating the resistance in a form of a woman wearing hijab? Like, this is just—you know, it’s just crazy and outrageous. So, I think, for me, I’m just the whitelash, against me, and I feel like more as a symbol more than it’s personal.
And, of course, you know, the reckoning of a conversation that’s happening right now within the Jewish community. Can we be against anti-Semitism and understand that it’s at the root of white supremacy? So you can’t tell me to combat anti-Semitism if you’re not ready to join me and tell me, “Let’s end white nationalism and white supremacy,” which is really the real threat on all Americans. And it was the threat that went into that synagogue and killed 11 people. It is the threat that was sending these pipe bombs to people across the country. It is the same ideology that we’re seeing of people going—you know the white militias going to the border right now, you know, and saying that—the blurred lines between the administration and the people now.
You know, when you were talking about the caravan and talking about illegal voters and people saying this is illegal, this is not just the president saying, “They want the right to vote. That’s what they want, the right to vote.” This is translating actually on the ground.
In fact, I just came back today from Florida. And I was in Tallahassee. I went to Orlando. I was in Miami. And when we were in Orlando, I took a busload of Muslim women from a mosque to the Dr. Phillips Library, which was an early voting site. And these women were excited. Half of them have never voted before. It was going to be their first time. And, you know—well, you already know me. I was like, “You’re about to make history. You’re putting in the first African-American governor.” We did a whole training on Amendment 4 and had a whole conversation about why that was important.
So, they’re at the polling site. There’s a long line out there. And there were these white men that were taking pictures of the women on the line. And I looked at them, and I was going to say something, and I said, “You know what? It’s not worth the fight right now. It’s a public place. They can take whatever photos. Maybe they’ve never seen Muslim women on a voting line. I don’t know what the issue is.”
About 10 minutes later, a woman comes out of the polling site, calling herself a poll code enforcer, and said—called me by my name. I don’t know this lady, never met her in my life. So I had already an idea what was about to happen. She said that she had—someone had lodged a complaint saying that we were bringing illegal voters to the polls. So I said to the woman, in a very facetious, condescending way, because I’ll be very—quite honest—I said, “You seem like a very intelligent woman. How, in fact, does somebody know whether we’re illegal or not? How do someone know, by not asking? No one saw our passports. No one asked us for ID. We’re just waiting on the line. What about us tells you that we’re illegal?” And the lady felt really ashamed of herself. And I said, “If you’re the poll code enforcer, then I’m really worried about every poll code enforcer in the country, if you literally came out of those polls to come talk to us.”
And these Muslim women, many of whom are immigrants and new Americans, are saying to me, “What do you mean 'illegal'?” And they hear this word “illegal,” and it’s triggering to them. You know, “Why? Like what’s going on here?” And I left four security guards, my security guards, on the line, as we went to another location afterwards. And I said, “Do not leave these women until they go in, vote, you get them back on that bus safely.”
So, what we have to understand is that this administration, their rhetoric is going into the communities that we’re from. And they are using this against our communities and using it at the pollings. And what’s happening as a country is we have to sit down and come to this point.
And to your point, Jeremy, it’s like not only has it flared up for me this week, because it always—this is like, I’m used to this by now. I’m just like, “Oh, yeah, another one, another day.” For example, Andy Kim, who’s running in Jersey. My father calls me and says, “I think I saw you in a commercial.” Sits in front of the TV, watches the 6:00 news, and my face comes up on the tri-state area 20 times a day in a commercial that’s used by Tom MacArthur against Andy Kim, that says Andy Kim—it starts with Mumia Abu-Jamal, who’s a political prisoner, saying that Andy Kim likes cop killers, and then it goes to: “He also sat on a panel with Linda Sarsour, who has called—who has waged a jihad on America.” And it’s all red and black and really dark. And then it basically has—it’s very also anti-Asian, kind of like communist-type framing. And I literally have been on television for the past week. It’s the only ad that Tom MacArthur has put on television.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’ve seen it several times.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah. And like everywhere I go, people recognize me, and it’s not always for good reason. So—
AMY GOODMAN: But, Linda, your group, MPower, after the shooting, the massacre at the Squirrel neighborhood—the Squirrel Hill synagogue, you raised money for this congregation?
LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. Amy, it’s not my first time. After the desecration of the cemetery in St. Louis, we raised over $160,000. That was actually more than the cemetery needed. And we were able to distribute that to Jewish centers across America who had had some small cases of vandalism. We’re rebuilding an entire cemetery in Colorado, that will be celebrated next spring by the state of Colorado.
And after this recent massacre at the Tree [of Life] synagogue, we actually raised over $200,000. We have complete paying off of all funerals for every single innocent victim that had died in that. And not only did we do that, we raised $44,000 for HIAS, which is a Jewish organization that works with refugees, many of whom now are Muslim. So, for me—
JEREMY SCAHILL: And the group that apparently was the—
AMY GOODMAN: Trigger.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —the trigger for this massacre, because of that history you’re describing.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, the trigger—I mean, the shooter basically said that he went to this specific synagogue—he could have went to any synagogue—he went to that specific synagogue because he said that they were the Jews that were bringing the dirty Muslims and the terrorists, and saying all this stuff about HIAS. So we, in solidarity with HIAS and to support them, we raised another $44,000, that was outside the $200,000. And for me, Amy, it’s always about doing the right thing. I don’t care—
ARI BERMAN: Did the people that you were with in Florida—did they all vote? What happened?
LINDA SARSOUR: Yes, they did. Yeah, they all were able to vote, because we left security with them. And they were all able to vote because they were all American citizens and registered voters.
ARI BERMAN: What happened when they got inside?
LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, their experience, translated to us, was that they went in, and, I think, after the conversation that we had with the polling—you know, the code enforcer—
ARI BERMAN: Yeah.
LINDA SARSOUR: —who felt probably not very smart after coming out, that they felt, you know, that they were able—there was a little bit more caution in how they were. And, of course, if you’re showing up to a polling site with security, you’re probably getting a little bit more respect [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: Just before we go to our next guest, another announcement of the elections tonight: Democrat Jennifer Wexton has beat incumbent Barbara Comstock in Virginia. I’m looking now at The Huffington Post. It says Hillary Clinton won the Virginia district by 10 points in 2016. Comstock couldn’t overcome her constituents’ dislike of President Donald Trump. So, this is the first declared victory. Democrat Jennifer Wexton beats the incumbent Barbara Comstock in Virginia for Congress.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Amy, [inaudible] Barbara Comstock during the Blackwater investigation, because before she was elected to Congress, Barbara Comstock was one of the top-level crisis consultants for mercenary firms. And it was her firm that was actually representing Erik Prince and Blackwater as they navigated the Nisoor Square massacre. This is actually very significant on a national security front, because Barbara Comstock is very close to some of the shadiest people from the post-9/11 CIA operations, people that ran the black sites, etc. So, I mean, that is by no means a factor in why she was defeated, but for people that follow national security movement on the Hill, Barbara Comstock was a very important person to some of the more unsavory characters in Washington paramilitary politics.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times reports that Barbara Comstock is also an old dear friend of Justice Kavanaugh.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to—if we can, I’d like to bring in Glenn Greenwald. We have the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, joining us from Brazil. Glenn, we’ve been having a discussion here about—especially about how this election has turned so much on the criminalizing of immigrants. And I wanted to—if you could, from your vantage point in Brazil—you’ve just been through a historic right-wing shift in the politics of Brazil. If you could give us your thoughts on—America is not exceptional at this time. There is anti-immigrant fervor sweeping, right-wing populism sweeping all of the advanced industrial world, in France, in Germany, in Hungary. And I’m wondering your thoughts about what’s happening here in the United States within the broader international context.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, I’ve been listening to the reports from Ari Berman, not just this evening, but throughout the day, as well as lots of other people, about the extraordinary barriers that have been put in place to prevent people from voting or to discourage them with really intense obstacles. And I really find it kind of remarkable, even though, obviously, this issue has been around for a long time, because here in Brazil we just went through two national elections where voting was mandatory. So more people voted in Brazil than are voting in the U.S. The elections were held on a Sunday, on purpose, where the fewest number of people, by far, have work obligations, and therefore work doesn’t prevent them from voting.
And none of these irregularities happen, even though Brazil is a much poorer country than the U.S., is a much younger democracy. And in fact, they count the votes all day long, so that when the final polls close nationally, about 95 percent of the ballots are counted. So you wait about four minutes, and you know the outcome of pretty much every election, whereas in the U.S., hours and hours and hours and hours are needed, deep into the night, constantly eroding—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sometimes weeks and months.
GLENN GREENWALD: Sometimes weeks and months.
And the fact that people are waiting four hours, you know, this is one of the points that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was making when she ran in a race that was purposely put when no other races were being held, that status quo incumbents purposely structure elections to minimize the ability to vote rather than to maximize it. And obviously, the Republicans have made a cottage industry out of this, as Ari has so amply documented.
So, I just—from a distance, just having gone through two elections in a country where democracy is quite fragile and the country is a lot poorer, none of these problems exist, which of course leads you to believe that they’re obviously purposeful. And the problem is, we get angry about it on election night, and then tomorrow everyone is obsessed with the outcome, understandably, and you kind of forget about it. Then, two years later, it repeats.
In terms of the substance, you know, I think that this is actually one of the more interesting elections that we’ve had in the last several decades. As Jeremy said, every election gets called the most important, so I’m not going to call it that. But I do think it’s one of the most interesting because of the extremely stark contrast, obviously, between Trump’s type of politics and his rhetoric, on the one hand, and what a lot of newer and more interesting Democrats are doing, on the other. And that’s the part that interests me most, is if we look at the candidates who have most excited Democrats nationally, they are people like Ocasio-Cortez, who ran, you know, abolish ICE and a minimum wage and a very kind of Bernie Sanders-esque, but even more to the left kind of campaign.
But even in, you know, not very blue areas, like Florida, with Andrew Gillum, and Texas, with Beto O’Rourke, you know, either a purple state or a red state, around the country, the most exciting candidates—all of these new Muslim American women who are heading to Congress, potentially Native American women—are not running as traditional Democrats. They are running in this kind of more—I don’t know if you want to call it populist, but certainly a more direct appeal to working-class people, to marginalized groups, avoiding corporate funding, using a small donor funding model that Bernie Sanders used so well in 2016. And that’s actually exciting.
I think it’s unsurprising that the Democrats are likely to take over the House, because in a midterm election, traditionally, the party out of power does very well. And obviously there’s a lot of anti-Trump animus. But I think the exciting part is not that the Democrats will do well, but the kinds of Democrats who have been animating voters in the election, including in places that we’re told shouldn’t be possible, given the voting composition.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, many of those, the so-called Republican strategists that populate cable—I still want to know what a Republican strategist is. But in any case, there’s—and the Democrats, they’re the same. But, you know, as I punished myself watching the coverage today in preparation for tonight, I noticed that a lot of Republicans seem to be very upset, on a strategic level, that Trump released that utterly racist and factually nonexistent ad, and that they believed that the strategy of running on the economy, at the very end of this, would have teed them up.
And I bring that up because, Bri, I know you are often engaged in this debate with other prominent journalists about identity politics, economics, class. And we have this phenomenon, in 2016, where you did have a not insignificant number of people that were Obama voters who then voted for Donald Trump. Some of the trends that you’ve reported on, and these debates that you’ve gotten into, lead me to ask you: Do you think—is there anything left over from that now, where you’re going to see people who would even be possible Obama voters all of a sudden saying, “Well, I’m going to keep with the Republicans here because of the X, Y and Z reasons I voted for Trump”? Like, what is that all about? And is it still a thing?
BRIAHNA GRAY: I think what you’re going to see is that the people who continue to stick with—the Democratic candidates who aren’t able to win are going to be candidates who didn’t adopt those things about Trump which a lot of Democrats refuse to acknowledge were actually good messaging, you know, the things outside of his racist rhetoric. So there’s this failure to want to recognize that what Trump did well was that he named an enemy and he offered a solution. Now, his solution was bunk, and his enemy was not the real problem. He pointed to people of color. He pointed to immigrants, anybody who is marginalized, victimized in any way, shape or form.
But the reality is, he said—he acknowledged that people are still suffering from the fallout of the recession. He didn’t say America is already great, which is something that Hillary Clinton explicitly, somehow, thought was a good idea. And what I see when I’m traveling to different parts of the country, red parts of the country, is some of the biggest applause lines that people like Bernie Sanders and some of these populist left candidates get are about not taking corporate money, about being outsider candidates, about being an alternative from the norm. These are the same things that Trump ran on, because the level of satisfaction with government is at something like 18 percent. Nobody thinks the status quo is working.
And I think that what you’ve seen in the last several elections is that the most outsider candidate wins. And that was true of Barack Obama, as well. He was benefited from the fact that he was new to the scene, that he didn’t have much of a record to have to defend, and that the possibilities were endless. And so, I’d like to—I just wanted to make it clear that—
AMY GOODMAN: You have 10 seconds.
BRIAHNA GRAY: —what I’m tracking around the country is the people who are doing the most progressive policies. I want to see what policies win.
AMY GOODMAN: And Briahna is headed off to cover Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We’ll play her speech just after 10:00. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in one minute.
[End of Hour 1]
AMY GOODMAN: From New York, this is a 2018 midterm election special, brought to you by Democracy Now! and The Intercept. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and Jeremy Scahill. It’s now 8:00 Eastern time. Polls are closing at this hour in more than a dozen states: in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the Florida Panhandle, Illinois, most of Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, most of Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the eastern half of South Dakota, Tennessee, most of Texas and the District of Columbia.
The first definitive midterm election results from today have come in from the U.S. territory of Guam, which has elected its first-ever woman governor, former Democratic lawmaker Lou Leon Guerrero.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Indiana, with 18 percent of precincts reporting, results are showing Republican Mike Braun in the lead over Democrat Joe Donnelly in a key Senate race. A win for Donnelly is seen as crucial if Democrats have any hope of taking the majority in the Senate.
In Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, with 49 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Amy McGrath is currently leading Republican incumbent Andy Barr.
In Florida, with 22 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Andrew Gillum is in the lead over Republican Ron DeSantis for governor. In the race for Senate, with 32 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Bill Nelson is in the lead over Republican Rick Scott.
And in New Hampshire, incumbent Republican Governor Chris Sununu is trailing by 10 percentage points behind Democrat Molly Kelly, with just 5 percent of precincts reporting.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Early election results are continuing to pour in. In South Carolina, with just 1 percent of precincts reporting, the Democrat James Smith in the lead over Republican Henry McMaster in the race for governor.
In Virginia, Democrat Jennifer Wexton is expected to win in her race against incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock. I believe that race may have already been called by major media outlets. That would turn that seat blue. The Democrats need to flip 23 seats to take over the House of Representatives. Incumbent Democratic senator and former vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine has won re-election in Virginia.
In the state of Vermont, independent Senator Bernie Sanders has been easily re-elected to the Senate. In Vermont’s gubernatorial race, Republican Phil Scott is in the lead over Democrat Christine Hallquist. If she is elected, Christine Hallquist hoped to be the nation’s first openly transgender governor.
In Ohio, Republican Troy Balderson is facing off against Democratic challenger Danny O’Connor in a closely watched congressional race. Balderson eked out a narrow victory over O’Connor in a special election over the summer, but the two are now facing off again in today’s election.
In West Virginia, early election results show Democratic Senator Joe Manchin ahead of his Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey. Manchin was the only Democrat to support Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
And there are several closely watched swing districts in North Carolina, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we are joined by a continuing roundtable of guests. And by the way, we’ll be with you until at least 1 a.m. Eastern time, bringing in guests from around the country.
In Washington, D.C., Mehdi Hasan is with us, the columnist for The Intercept and host of their Deconstructed podcast. He’s also host of UpFront at Al Jazeera English.
In Atlanta, Carol Anderson is with us, chair of African American Studies Department at Emory University and author, most recently, of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Her previous books include White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
Betsy Reed has joined us at our New York table, editor-in-chief of The Intercept.
And Rashad Robinson is also now here, executive director of Color of Change.
Still with us, Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change.
Wow! We have a whopper of a roundtable, and we’ll be reporting to you results of these races and also of ballot initiatives and amendments throughout the evening. So stick with Democracy Now! and The Intercept.
We’re going to go first to Carol Anderson, professor in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia is one of the hottest states to watch right now, although I do understand there was some rain there today. I found it interesting. I heard one of the commentators saying bad weather is good for Republicans. And I was wondering if that’s why so many are denying climate change. I’m not sure. But, Carol Anderson, I know you’re not here to talk about climate change, but if you can start off by talking about what’s happening right now with the gubernatorial race? If Stacey Abrams were to win, again, she would become the first African-American woman governor in U.S. history, which is a very sad statement but true. Professor Anderson, welcome.
CAROL ANDERSON: Thank you so much for having me, Amy. It is amazing. I spent most of today driving people actually to the polls. And the polls were steady. People are there. They are engaged. They are voting. The poll workers talked about how they have just seen, in the morning, lines, and then, toward the lunch hour, it kind of died down, but it was picking up again in the evening as people were getting off work. And there is a determination.
And you know that being here—you know, Kemp, just over the weekend—Brian Kemp, who is the Republican nominee for governor—candidate for governor, he did his, “Oh, the Democrats have hacked the system, and I’ve launched an investigation.” And then, last night, it was, “Oh, by the way, the Black Panthers are endorsing Stacey Abrams.” I mean, he’s lobbing everything he can. But people look at that, and they see it exactly for what it is: desperation. Because this race is close. Because you’re seeing two very different visions for Georgia: Either we move forward or we go back.
AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] Anderson, she’s in Atlanta, Georgia. Our reports are right now, Carol, that Brian Kemp, the secretary of state, who refused to recuse himself as the ump of this election, right? He’s in charge of the election, and he’s running.
CAROL ANDERSON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: He, at this point—and again, the majority of the vote is not in, but he’s ahead.
CAROL ANDERSON: Right, right. And he’s ahead because they’ve counted a lot of the smaller, rural counties. But, for instance, no votes have come in yet from the areas—most of the areas around Atlanta, including Fulton and, I believe, DeKalb County, as well, which are the two major counties for Atlanta. So, we’re not—what we’re getting are the votes coming in from the majority white and rural areas where you would expect Kemp to have a beachhead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to ask Rashad Robinson from Color of Change. One of the exit polls that CNN is talking about shows that about 16 percent of those who voted are new voters, voting for the first time. Your sense of what that means? Because I know Color of Change has been a key organization for millennials of color in this country.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah. And actually, our political action committee made a distinct choice this election cycle, and we concentrated on what folks call low-propensity voters in the sort of election world, which are really folks that don’t vote every election cycle. Many of the voters that we were engaging, through really interesting data technology, were folks that maybe some of them had never voted before. Some of them had maybe voted once for Obama but never again.
And what we did was we built a volunteer-only program, which was, our volunteers were then engaging these low-propensity voters. We reached about a little over a million voters around the country this cycle. First of all, just the volunteer intensity, the sort of number of people who gave weekends and nights, mornings, to like engage. In fact, Linda came down and engaged with some of our volunteers this past weekend. We had to innovate on our own program when our volunteers came to us in Florida and said, “We need to have a canvass in Creole.” And we were like, “Well, let’s figure that out. We might not be able to check the scripts for you, but like let’s do that.” And the excitement of being able to reach those voters, who political consultants and the parties kept consistently left off. They don’t reach them. Our folks were going to housing projects in Tallahassee, for instance, and no one—there was no literature on any of those doors. And we were having direct conversation with voters.
And so, the focus for us was really expanding that denominator, that a lot of the polling companies and a lot of the consultants say this is the base of who’s going to turn out. We wanted to debunk that and create a new wave of voters, but also connect them with our organization long-term, so we had a new kind of base of folks that politicians had to be accountable to. So we weren’t just engaging people around the election, of turning people out and then going away after the election, but we were helping people understand.
We were also doing that work around district attorney races. And one of the most exciting wins we had this whole election cycle were in these district attorney elections, really picking up off of some of the work we had done in 2016 with translating the protest energy around criminal justice into the power to actually change who were the most powerful decision makers.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, I don’t know if people realize the significance of district attorneys, but people like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —who was representing Occupy, representing Black Lives Matter, then becomes the district attorney. Talk about that.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Well, 90 percent of district attorneys in this country right now are white. About 80 percent run unopposed. District attorneys are the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system, from the small decisions about whether or not someone gets bail or not, whether or not someone is charged with a misdemeanor or felony, what crimes are charged, what police are allowed to bring charges.
We started back in 2016 in Cook County with our work, where we had gotten tired of going to district attorney’s offices with our petitions, with our rallies, and being completely ignored. And we asked our members to say, “Let’s do some voter contact around these races.” And what we did was we cross-tabbed the voter file, which was all the registered voters, with cellphone numbers. And we bought access to cellphone numbers. And we had textathons in cities around the country. Basically created a kind of a swing state strategy around district attorney races. And we hit Chicago, Orlando, Houston. And we kicked out district attorneys that were not—and people were surprised, because many of these folks had not had to run competitive races for years. We kept that effort going, working with our partners on the ground in Philadelphia. And what we did was—the Larry Krasner work was so exciting. I mean, I had to go on black radio stations throughout Philadelphia and explain why Color of Change was supporting the white candidate and not the black candidate. But we really looked at and we built out a platform.
This election cycle, one of the proudest things we’ve done so far, besides all the work around Stacey and Andrew and so much else, was kicking out Bob McCulloch, the 27-year incumbent who refused to bring charges after Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, and almost thumbing his nose at the community. And working hand in hand with our partners in Ferguson, we opened an office in downtown Ferguson. We cut turf and voting lists for local activists who had been protesting, and got people out knocking on doors and having conversations. The polls, about a week before, said we were about 10 points behind. And we won by almost 10 points—
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: —electing Wesley Bell, a first-time candidate for district attorney, but a former city councilmember, who ran on our platform. We have already started building out a 100-day plan. We’re going to hold Wesley Bell accountable to what he said.
But being able to send a clear message—and that’s, I think, also important for folks to see, because these district attorney races, whether it was Philadelphia, whether it was the work in Ferguson and St. Louis, whether it’s the work in Chicago, these were primaries. These were Democrats who were thumbing their nose at black people and black communities in cities around the country and using the criminal justice system to sort of move up the ladder. And we said no to them. We said, “You’re not going to be able to continue to do this and continue to stay in office.”
And for us, that’s also important with bringing new voters into the process, that you’re not just telling them that, “Oh, sign up with the Democrats, and everything will be OK.” There are Democrats that we have problems with.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And that was also part of what we really wanted to make clear as we started inviting folks into a different type of movement that really seeks to build independent political power. That doesn’t mean that we’re not siding with some Democrats that don’t have all of the things we want. That’s harm reduction. But it does mean that in primaries, we’re going to have to go after some folks that thought that they could just continue to get elected and didn’t have to do the things we wanted them to.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right. And I—
JEREMY SCAHILL: And that—oh, go ahead, Linda. Sorry.
LINDA SARSOUR: No, I was going to say, on the district attorneys, that we have to remember that district attorneys also have higher aspirations for office. And we remember Dan Donovan, who was the district attorney in Staten Island, who couldn’t indict Officer Pantaleo from the New York Police Department who choked Eric Garner on video for everyone to see. And Dan Donovan went, immediately after that, to run for Congress and, in fact, won his congressional seat.
And right now, today, we are watching that congressional seat. It’s the most—one of the most contested congressional seats in the entire country. They’re looking for that seat to help win back the House. It’s actually my district, unfortunately. I live like in the Mississippi of the North, in kind of the bottom of southwest Brooklyn and the entire borough of Staten Island. So, today there’s an opportunity for a young man named Max Rose, who’s actually not a perfect candidate. I’m not very enthusiastic or excited, and I have many reasons. Jeremy probably knows them, because he reads my mind. But I think, for me, it’s something that I never—I can’t hold it in my heart knowing that in my district that a man who couldn’t indict a police officer who clearly choked a black man on video could hold that office and represent us in Congress. And I’m willing to take the chance of another not-so-great Democrat going into Congress. But I think that’s a race to watch, too.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, and let’s remember that as we talk about these district attorney races, which, I agree, it’s—some of the best organizing going on in this country during these past election cycles have been targeting these district attorneys, who run unopposed and often have very deep ties to law enforcement in their communities. It’s just sort of assumed they’re going to slide in and they’re going to do business with the cops. In Philly, one of the reasons why Krasner was able to win is that a lot of those cops don’t even live in Philly. I mean, it’s something Juan pointed out to me when that happened.
But also, the president of the United States has not gone to a foreign war zone to visit U.S. troops, which in the post-9/11 world is very unusual, but he’s constantly speaking to sheriffs, police officers. You have a white supremacist in Jeff Sessions, who is the attorney general, who actually ad-libbed the insertion of a line about the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement into a speech. That is part of why people are mobilizing against these entrenched pro-police district attorneys, is because the entire vibe now is that the police, the courts, the district attorney are all at war against you. And it’s so important.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to our next guest, I just want to let people know that this news is coming out of Kentucky. Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, lost her bid for re-election today. Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. beat Davis, a Republican, in the race for Rowan County clerk by an estimated 4,200 votes to 3,500 votes, with all 19 precincts reporting, this according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, another statistic that Trump often erroneously will cite is he’ll say, “53 percent of women voted for me.” Well, it was 53 percent of white women.
BETSY REED: White women.
JEREMY SCAHILL: But there has been quite a bit of reporting over these months saying that that dynamic may shift, Betsy. Do you think we’re going to see any real movement on the issue of white women voters, given the stakes, given what just happened with Kavanaugh being confirmed? I mean, do you think there will be any noticeable shift in what the majority of white women do in these elections?
BETSY REED: Well, first of all, I mean, leaving aside Trump’s unbelievably racist way of talking about it—I mean, the way he says, “I got the majority support from women,” and it’s just white women—there has also been a misunderstanding of that dynamic, because, in fact, if you take out the evangelical vote, the vast majority of white women actually supported Hillary Clinton. So, and I do think, going into this election cycle, we’re going to see a huge gender gap. All of the polls show that it’s going to be very significant.
What I think is interesting, though, is that a lot—I think there is a tendency, particularly among the kind of Democratic elites and pundits, to really focus on this suburban female vote, the sort of moderate that could go Republican, could go Democratic. And I actually believe that that was one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the Hillary Clinton campaign, because those were the voters who, you know, were really swayed when the Comey email thing came up at the last minute. Those are the voters that peeled away. And they aren’t really solid parts of a Democratic coalition that is united around really progressive economic policies and the other kind of core policies that I think are really going to be appealing across the demographic spectrum around issues of justice.
And so, I think it will be really interesting to watch, coming out of this, what—everybody is going to kind of see in the tea leaves whatever they want to see, right? But I would imagine that there is going to be a dominant strain just emphasizing like what happened with this narrow segment of wealthy white women. And I think that would be a mistake.
LINDA SARSOUR: Could I ask a clarification question? When you said 53 percent of white women electorate, but then take out the evangelical people, are you saying take out the evangelical white women in there?
BETSY REED: Yes. And then it’s the rest of the white women that were largely for Hillary Clinton. And now even the evangelical white women seem to be moving. So, I mean—although that’s going to be a lot harder.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah. That’s what I’m going to be looking for today. That’s what I’m looking at, yeah, because I think, for us at the Women’s March—as you know, I also am one of the national co-chairs of the Women’s March—that’s what we’re looking at, because we’ve seen some pretty horrific races in the past year and a half, where we saw 53 percent of white women electorate in places like Alabama vote for literally a child molester. Like he was like—I mean, I don’t know how worse can you have a candidate than one that’s accused of—not only of sexual assault, but of actual child molestation. I mean, in Virginia last year, elections in Virginia, and looking even at New Jersey, I mean, all of that, it just didn’t get chipped off. And I’m hoping that in 2018 midterms, there has to be a chip-off, or we’re just not doing it right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And I just think this speaks to the progressive infrastructure’s need to do deeper organizing among white people. There’s also a lot of concentration on—and I think organizations like mine do our work with black folks.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I was in Georgia. There is a lot of black evangelical women, and they are not a problem. Right? There may be things that are said in the pews, but then they go and they elect some of the most pro-LGBT equality folks, like John Lewis and Stacey Abrams and however else. And they are hearing the same sort of sets of messages from the same books and are able to sort of put that into a larger context. And so I do think that this does speak to some larger work that has to be done among white folks speaking to white folks about what does it mean to move this country forward.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I think we’re also joined—oh, this news from The Cook Political Report: In Florida, House District 27, Democrat Donna Shalala defeats Republican Maria Elvira Salazar. This is the second Democratic House pickup of the night. Meanwhile, Republicans have held onto a House seat in Florida’s 18th Republican—in the 18th District. Republican Congressman Brian Mast has defeated Democrat Lauren Baer.
I think we’re joined by Mehdi Hasan. He’s a columnist for The Intercept and host of their Deconstructed podcast. He’s also host of UpFront at Al Jazeera English. He’s joining us from Washington, D.C. Mehdi, as you’re looking at the election results as they’re coming in, what are you looking for as an indication of where the night may take us?
MEHDI HASAN: I mean, the most interesting thing, I think, for all of us—and we’ve talked a lot about race; I’ve been listening to the discussion about, you know, white evangelicals versus nonwhite evangelicals—there’s a lot of race on the ballot tonight. Donald Trump ran a brazenly racist campaign. I know Jeremy and Briahna were discussing identity politics in the last hour. Anyone who thinks Donald Trump was trying to run an economic anxiety campaign only needs to look at the midterms that just happened. He ran on caravans, Middle Easterners, ISIS, birthright citizenship. You know, that’s what they threw the kitchen—that’s the kitchen sink that they threw. And it will be very interesting to see how voters respond. It’s very worrying if they respond in a positive way, because imagine what he’ll do come 2020. Imagine what the Republicans will do if they think this racist messaging works. And that’s why the Andrew Gillum election in Florida is so important, the Stacey Abrams election is so important, the Amendment 4 with regard to felon disenfranchisement in Florida—all of these are so important because race is so integral to a lot of these races and contests.
One other thing I’m looking at, personally, which Ari Berman talked so eloquently about in your first hour, is, of course, the actual nature of voting and the election process itself. As a foreigner, looking at your elections, reporting on your elections, it’s absolutely absurd to see how badly and how anti-democratically the United States runs elections, because, on the one hand, you have this very inspiring day of voting, you know, record levels of young people going out to vote, record levels of minority voters, record number of minority candidates running for office—I think 411 out of 964 candidates nationwide are women, people of color, LGBTQ. Inspiring. And on the other hand, you have the brazen and blatant voter suppression that’s going on, that’s going to affect so many results tonight, and so many journalists will, sadly, ignore that—the racist voter ID laws, Native Americans being turned away from polling stations, four-and-a-half-hour lines in the richest country in the world in 2018. Absolutely absurd. You have a polling station in Georgia where the voting machines ran out of power today, and they didn’t have any electrical cables. In Arizona, a polling station building got foreclosed on overnight. In New York, they didn’t have the keys to open a polling station. In Michigan, a voting machine was locked in a closet, which no one could access, so they sent people home. This is absurd in America in 2018. These are not free and fair elections by any international commonsense definition of the phrase. I think that should be at the center of any results analysis by journalists in America tonight and tomorrow morning.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I know a lot of our viewers and listeners right now are following very closely the gubernatorial races in both Georgia and Florida. And the Florida race, there’s more than 90 percent of the returns in, and it is a dead heat, where Andrew Gillum has been up, barely, much of the night. DeSantis is now 49.8 percent to 49 of Andrew Gillum, with more than 90 percent reporting.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Andrew Gillum is the Tallahassee mayor. He would be the first African-American governor of Florida. And Ron DeSantis is the congressmember who is hoping to be the next governor. Mehdi?
MEHDI HASAN: Wouldn’t it be depressing if the night ends, and none of the three African Americans running for governor, in Maryland, in Florida and in Georgia, are elected, and they’re not elected not because they weren’t good enough, but because their opponents were able to use voter laws to suppress their voters? In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is literally running against the guy, Brian Kemp, who’s in charge of the election. And I say to my American friends and colleagues every day: This is not normal. Other Western democracies don’t have election officials also running in the same election that they’re overseeing. And, you know, right now in America, 50 states, not a single African-American governor, in 50 states, in 2018. Only two African-American men elected to the governor’s mansion in the history of this country. That’s why tonight is so important in places, especially Florida and Georgia, where she would be the first African-American woman in American history to be a governor.
AMY GOODMAN: And no African-American woman ever elected in the United States in U.S. history. But you were talking about journalists. And the last time we had you on, Mehdi Hasan, was to talk about Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered on October 2nd in the Turkish—in Turkey, in the Saudi Consulate. And this was a period where Trump really got off balance. A story got ahead of him he could not respond to. And he very quickly, though, got back on his message and started talking about the terrorists—
MEHDI HASAN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —in the caravan that were heading to threaten us, as he worked with those who, it was very much believed, orchestrated the murder of Khashoggi. We still do not have the Saudi investigation of themselves. Can you talk about this climate of the last few weeks?
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, we’re talking about that terroristic incident, that state terrorism—
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —on the part of Saudi Arabia, and then you have the killings of the African Americans in Kentucky, the Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, the letter bombs, at least 15 of them, a kind—looked like a Trump hit list—
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —of Trump’s critics. But he talked about the threats to terrorism from the southern—of terrorism from the southern border.
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah, it’s a question for all Trump supporters and Trump administration members, that the pipe—that the pipe bomber, the letter bomber, and the shooter in Pittsburgh, what caravan were they part of? I wonder. No, the terrorists were already here apparently, but we weren’t paying attention because they were far-right white nationalist terrorists, and this administration has made it very clear that they don’t see those folks as any kind of threat. They’ve actually cut funding to organizations that try and deradicalize far-right terrorists.
Amy, you’re right. The media landscape has been crazy in recent weeks. And the Saudi story was astonishing, the Khashoggi story, astonishing that it lasted so long. Then the terrorist attacks came along, and some of us were kind of joking with black humor that the Saudis must have been cheering this terrorist stuff, because it finally knocked the murder of Jamal Khashoggi off the headlines. Trump himself, of course, Amy, then tweeted about how all this bomb stuff is distracting people from the elections. He actually went to a rally last week and said, “We had great momentum until these two attacks.” Yeah, forget the 11 dead Jewish worshipers; worry about my campaign. Imagine any other president said this. Imagine Barack Obama, after a mass shooting or terrorist attack, had said, “Oh, that’s hurt me politically and my supporters in our election campaign.” It’s amazing what this guy gets away with.
And the caravan story is the ultimate example of why the, quote-unquote, “liberal media,” the mainstream media in this country, no matter how much Trump may say he hates the media and the media say, “We don’t like Trump,” they are still dancing to his tune. Media Matters for America did a study the other day about how many times the caravan has appeared on the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Why? Why are we covering this fictional story? This fictitious caravan, that is 700, 900, whatever, miles away, is not arriving here, if at all, for several weeks, doesn’t contain any Middle Easterners as the president claims, and has every legal right to come and ask for asylum if and when they get here. And why are we allowing him to set the agenda in this way? Amazing that two years in, in the middle of this midterm campaign, he can get everyone talking about a caravan at a time when his supporters are, you know, launching violent attacks. It doesn’t bode well for 2020 that he still has this ability, even now, after everything, to manipulate media organizations and to have them covering the nonsense that he spews.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I just have some breaking news here. Ayanna Pressley is officially the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She defeated a 10-term Democratic incumbent, Representative Mike Capuano, in the primaries. There was no Republican on the ballot. She’s running unopposed. She’s currently a Boston city councilor. And she was also the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council. And she has advocated for the abolition of ICE.
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad Robinson, would you like to respond to this victory?
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah. I mean, one of the—one of the incredible things, for me, just on a personal level, is to see a set of folks who I’ve known for over a decade running and winning offices, whether it’s Andrew or Stacey, both running for governor, Ben Jealous, Ayanna Pressley, and these folks who have—who have been not just strong progressives, but have been part of the movement, have worked to register voters, who have worked on issues, have worked to bring communities forward, and are now bringing themselves forward as candidates, which is very different than sort of the corporate class sort of coming in, the moneyed class sometimes, the folks that have the most money being able to self-fund their campaigns. These folks have come from communities. These folks have built infrastructure in communities. And I am just hoping for as many of them as possible to win tonight, because what it does mean is that we will have people in office who understand what it means to actually really represent the people, because they’ve been on both sides of the table. And that, I think, is incredibly important. And so, whether it’s Ayanna’s victory, whether it’s the other victories I’m looking at around the country like that, this is just, I think, a really important point.
And I do think that—you know, we say it a lot at Color of Change, that voting isn’t everything, that we don’t get involved in elections because we want to help politicians get a job or move up the ladder. But it’s hard to move anything forward if we don’t vote. Justice will not move forward if we don’t vote and if it’s not central to our electoral work. And so, that’s just, I think, incredibly important. And electing the right people and having them in office and being able to speak truth to power is important.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we’re also joined by my new colleague, Naomi Klein, removed from Canada, now to Rutgers University. And, Naomi, this is your first up-close U.S. election. I’m wondering your perspective now—
NAOMI KLEIN: Hmm, can I leave?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —having spent all those years in Canada looking at these elections.
NAOMI KLEIN: You know, as I was coming here, Juan, I was thinking—I was about to say, you know, the world is laughing at you. And then I realized, well, I live here now, so maybe I have to say “us.” And I’m so struggling with this. It’s a tough moment to do the “us” thing.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You’re like Ted Cruz. You want to be both Canadian and American. No, I’m kidding.
NAOMI KLEIN: Listen, I am. OK? I have dual citizenship.
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, I know. I know.
NAOMI KLEIN: But no, you know, this really is—it feels like an election where the center has collapsed, and it is buffeted by these two countervailing winds and are just so different, like what Rashad is talking about, that you have these movement candidates, you have this movement energy infusing all these campaigns. You have these policies that, you know, just a few short years ago would have been laughed at, the idea that these were winnable policies. And yet, they’re the ones that are capturing imagination. And that’s tremendously exciting, right?
But on the other side, you have just absolute shamelessness, the shamelessness of just embracing minority rule, right? That is what the Republican Party is doing. They do not believe in majority rule. They do not believe in the most basic principles of democracy, so they are suppressing the vote, they are rigging the vote, they are cheating out in the open. I think the clip that you showed earlier, Amy, of Trump talking about these immigrants coming to use social services—right?—which is an old trick—right?—to conflate public services with abuse by sort of illegitimate people of color, and so that’s the way you set the ground for attacking those public services, but then adding to that, and they want you to vote—they want them to vote. So, he’s actually delegitimizing voting, right? And that’s pretty scary stuff.
Jeremy, as you’ve been covering really consistently on Intercepted, I mean, we are seeing tactics straight out of the tinpot dictator fascist playbook, right? I don’t use that word lightly. I’m not saying this is a fascist country, but I am saying we are seeing the precise tactics—mobs versus jobs. You know, you paint your opposition as an unruly mob, which of course sets the stage for any tactic of repression, right? Anybody who’s lived under dictatorship knows how ominous that is.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And it’s very important to recognize that Trump is a—is 100 percent a creation of the American political system. He is not an anomaly. When Trump talk about making America great again, he is talking about the era when black people were enslaved. He is talking about the era when women would just listen to men, as they were supposed to. But he is drawing not on the lore of the Roman Empire like Mussolini was; he is drawing on the lore of a white supremacist narrative about this country and the white supremacy that has ruled this country until now.
And what Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who is an NYU scholar on Mussolini, she said—and she’s a very careful person when she is talking about fascism—she sees the moment that we’re in right now as a transitional period. It could be a transition into an ultra-authoritarian consolidation of power in this country, or those fighting back could win. And I think it’s important for us, because Trump is such a buffoon and a clown on his exterior, to remember that he has a very powerful, sophisticated machine behind him, in Mike Pence and the GOP. We saw what Mitch McConnell did with the—well, with a number of things, but certainly with Brett Kavanaugh. And Trump taps into this mythology of what America really is. And it’s a mythology that increasingly is embraced by desperate white men, about who this country is and who it belongs to.
I know Betsy Reed has to leave in a moment, but just your thoughts? We have everything too close to call right now in terms of the big picture. The indications are, the Senate looks like it’s going to stay Republican. The House appears to be tilting toward the Democrats. We have very close races in a number of crucial ones that we’ve been following.
AMY GOODMAN: And The Hill is reporting that Democrat Tom Wolf has beat his Republican challenger in the Pennsylvania governor’s race. We’ve been seeing a lot of Governor Wolf with the killing of the Pittsburgh Jews, as he has come out to speak out against this, of course. AP is reporting Democrat Tim Ryan wins re-election in the U.S. House in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District. And Bloomberg is reporting billionaire J.B. Pritzker has won Illinois’s governor race. Also, this just in, Democrat Bob Menendez has won his New Jersey Senate seat. He will keep it. He’s the incumbent, defeating his Republican challenger Bob Hugin.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And that’s important, both the—
AMY GOODMAN: You’re now a voter in New Jersey, Juan.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, first time in my life I voted in New Jersey yesterday. But I think the Illinois and New Jersey results are important because the people at the top of the ticket often have an influence on the lower races. And both in Illinois and in New Jersey especially, there’s a bunch of Republican-held seats in Congress that are very close races. And likewise in Illinois, down state in Illinois, there are several races that if Pritzker, at the top of the ticket, is winning, the impact on those races might also shift more toward Democrats.
BETSY REED: You know, I do think—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, but—yeah, go ahead, Betsy.
BETSY REED: —given, you know, what you laid out about the threats that we’re facing, I really have a deep feeling, as I know a lot of people do, that this election is really momentous. And if we’re going to have any—you know, there really needs to be some kind of powerful repudiation of the strains of fascism that we’re seeing.
Now, at The Intercept, we have done a lot of coverage of the splits within the Democratic Party, the sort of battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. And it really does—you know, the stark challenges show that a Democratic response that is steeped in polls and that is saturated with money from the oil and gas industry and is just embedded in business as usual is so inadequate to the threats that we face. We need the kind of grassroots energy that, you know, you were talking about and that we’ve seen across the country. And that is—my colleague Ryan Grim wrote about how Trump gave us back the Democratic Party, he rescued the Democratic Party, because he inspired all of these people to rise up. And it’s not—I mean, of course, these movements have been built for a long time. This is not, you know, coming out of nowhere.
NAOMI KLEIN: I think Bernie deserves some credit, too.
BETSY REED: Bernie does, too. Well, true. But, you know, it’s much broader than Bernie. And I hope that it goes beyond some of the divisions that—the legacy of the 2016 primary, which still, you know, you see these fights playing out online. And I think that represents real differences, but at the same time, you know, if you look at what Democratic voters care about, it’s Medicare for all, it’s a Green New Deal. It’s these policies that I think represent a real significant pushback to what has taken over the country in Trump.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I would also like to add, though, for a lot of folks in communities of color, a lot of the uprising and movement started in the Obama administration, when there was this idea that things were going to be heading in the right direction, and we saw so much of what wasn’t able to be achieved. And so, if you think about the rise of the DREAMer movement, the rise of Black Lives Matter, that all happened during the Obama administration. And it was a rise of a sort of the next generation of the left, that really sort of pushed against the Democratic establishment, forced politicians to actually have to speak about race and not just sort of kind of put it among an enumerated sort of set of things.
And the Democrats, and particularly sort of white Democrats, did have this sort of theory and strategy that they could sort of like be just good enough to black folks or just good enough to brown folks, and they would get those votes, and then while appealing to mainstream. I mean, Bill Clinton, when he announced that he was running for president in Arkansas, his main statement was “Make America great again.” I mean, if you go back and look at the videos, he had the same exact tagline as Donald Trump did years later.
And so, I do think that the work to sort of get right what it means to be powerful, what it means to actually stand up for people, what it means to make elections actually matter, not just having Democrats win, not just being in a harm reduction space, but being about sort of an aspiration about what we actually want to achieve, sometimes that happens when we get Democrats in office and see that everything hasn’t been achieved and we have to push back, the same way that, you know, tea party movements have pushed back against Republicans.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to be joined by Ryan Grim in just a moment, who has done so much reporting on the elections all over the country. And we want to thank you very much, Betsy Reed, for being with us. Carol Anderson is still with us in Atlanta, Georgia. Carol, you’re not only at the center of one of the major races that’s being watched all over this country—
CAROL ANDERSON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —which is the gubernatorial race. And again, it looks like the secretary of state, Brian Kemp, at this point, but as you’ve pointed out, the major areas have not been fully counted, though a lot of people voted early in Georgia. But there’s another interesting race that’s taking place in Georgia, in Marietta. We first came to know Lucy McBath—actually, it was soon after her son, teenager, African-American boy—
CAROL ANDERSON: Yes, Jordan.
AMY GOODMAN: —named Jordan Davis, was gunned down by a white man. He was with his friends the day after Thanksgiving. They had gone—they were in a gas station parking lot playing music.
CAROL ANDERSON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: This man pulls in next to them, and he—
CAROL ANDERSON: Michael Dunn.
AMY GOODMAN: —shoots into the car and kills Jordan.
CAROL ANDERSON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Lucy McBath never thought of entering public life in this way, but she was propelled by gun control issues. And then, after Parkland, she couldn’t take it anymore, the massacre in Florida. And she’s run for Congress right now. It’s an absolutely amazing story. And I think we have a clip. When we talked to Lucy McBath, it was actually at the Sundance Film Festival, because there was this remarkable film made about Lucy McBath. It’s called 3 1/2 Minutes. We talked to her in 2015 about her son’s murder. And I asked Lucy McBath, at that time, about what happened to her son Thanksgiving weekend 2012.
LUCY McBATH: I was at my family’s house, and I just happened to be up in the bedroom. And I saw, you know, Ron’s face pop up on the phone, and I said, “Hey, Ron,” you know, “how are you doing? Happy Thanksgiving,” you know. And he kept saying, you know, “Where’s Earl?” And Earl is my cousin. And I’m like, “Well, he’s downstairs. I will go get Earl.” And that was an immediate clue to me that something was wrong. And because I just—I just knew in my spirit that it had to do with Jordan. And so, every fear that a parent has, everything you worry about—them being hit in a car, you know, just any fear that you have as a parent, every one of those fears at that moment just—I felt like it was just the weight of the world had fallen on me. And I felt like everything we’ve done to protect him—and we couldn’t protect him. And so, walking through those days right after, and it’s just a complete fog, you know, that my boy was killed over music.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Lucy McBath. This race has not been called. She’s up against Karen Handel, who was in the most expensive special election in the history of the United States just recently, when she defeated Jon Ossoff. Karen Handel, now a congressmember, very interesting case where she was one of the heads of the Komen Breast Cancer Fund and pushed for the dropping of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood fought back, demanded to have an explanation of this, and Handel was basically forced out of the Komen organization. She had been the vice president. And then she ran for Congress. If you could talk about the significance of African-American challenger Lucy McBath and what this race has been about?
CAROL ANDERSON: Yeah, this is—again, this is one of those kind of key moments. Karen Handel not only is the one who tried to very politicize Planned Parenthood, but she is also a voter suppressor. She was the one who—Brian Kemp replaced her. So that the kinds of mechanisms of growing fear, a fear of African Americans, fear of increasing Latino populations in Georgia, a move to silence their political voices via a number of voter suppression techniques, such as voter roll purges, the heightening up again with the fear that guns are absolutely necessary, unfettered, uncontrolled guns, because of the kind of changing demographics and, more importantly, that those demographics refuse to be silent, that those demographics refuse to accept unbridled political leadership by those who don’t care about their communities, that’s what we’re seeing here.
I mean, we’re in the middle of an epic struggle. One of the things that has been coming through in this conversation has been that this is no mere election. This is an election where it’s not just a congressional seat that’s sitting at the crossroads, or a county or a state. It’s a nation. And that’s why this election is so important. And that’s why it has been so intense, on one side, with those who are doubling down on racism and fear, saying, “We’ve got to hold on with everything that we have”—that would be a Karen Handel, and that would be a Brian Kemp, that would be a Ted Cruz, that would be a Ron DeSantis and a Donald Trump—and, on the other hand, those who see the beauty, the power, the magnificence of what it means to have a nation that provides the kinds of safety nets, in terms of education, in terms of healthcare, in terms of a clean environment, in terms of good jobs, that allows people to fly. That is where we are, moving toward a full, vibrant democracy or sliding down into the hole that takes us back to Antebellum America. And that is what’s at stake here.
And so, to have a Lucy McBath then emerge out of that tragedy—and it was a tragedy born of fear. Michael Dunn, the killer of her son, he feared those young black men, those young black teenagers in that car. That’s what he talked about. “I was afraid, I was afraid.” And his fear didn’t allow him to just sit in that car and listen to the music. That fear gave him that kind of impetus where he thought that he could grab his gun and take Jordan Davis’s life, and that it would be all right, and he just went to go get some pizza afterwards. That’s where we are.
So, there is a thread that weaves through all of this, that takes us from a Jordan Davis and a Trayvon Martin to the killings in the synagogues, to the killings in Kentucky, to the ginning up of fear about a caravan that’s basically people who are dealing with incredible violence and deprivation and are just looking for sanctuary. So, that’s where we are in this nation. And that’s what—and so, Lucy McBath embodies that beautifully.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to go to some more updates in Florida’s—in the Florida governor’s race. With 76 percent of the vote in, Republican Ron DeSantis has 50 percent of the vote, Andrew Gillum has 48.8 percent. Still a very close race. Ryan Grim, you’ve been looking at a lot of these races. Talk to us about the ones that you are most concerned about right now.
RYAN GRIM: Well, what’s been most interesting is how not interesting this is compared to the forecasts. You know, they’re pretty much on track. And so, in the sense that the forecasts have been predicting a Democratic takeover of the House and Republicans holding on to the Senate, that appears to be where it’s headed. The only way that it falls Republicans’ way in the House is if a whole bunch of these coin toss races all flip Republican. And you saw, Juan, the first, the bellwether, this Amy McGrath, who had this viral ad where she talked about being a fighter pilot, and there was actually a bombing in the ad, and it raised her millions of dollars. That’s neither here nor there.
AMY GOODMAN: She’s ahead now.
RYAN GRIM: She was ahead. It was just called for Andy Barr, the incumbent. But she was expected to lose by 2 or 3 points. So, the fact—
AMY GOODMAN: This is Kentucky.
RYAN GRIM: Right, this is Kentucky. So, the fact that she lost by 2 or 3 points, that’s kind of on the forecast. In a lot of these other Senate races where Democrats had been hoping that they’d be able to hold on, they’re struggling. Donnelly in Indiana is struggling. The exit polls said that tons of people were mad at him for his Kavanaugh vote, you know. And the exit polls might have said the opposite if he had voted the other way, and Democrats might have been mad at him. So, it’ll be interesting what lesson people take from that. Ron DeSantis is up slightly, as you just said, but there’s—a lot of the blue counties are still out down in Florida. Pennsylvania hasn’t quite started to come in yet. There are a lot of interesting races there. Richard Ojeda is running even in West Virginia. He’s this kind of populist guy who screams at the camera in his ads. I interviewed him once. It was like riding a mechanical bull for half an hour.
AMY GOODMAN: He was in the Michael Moore documentary, right?
RYAN GRIM: Exactly, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: In Fahrenheit 11/9.
RYAN GRIM: He’s that guy. He’s able to do negative ads, but it doesn’t even feel negative because it’s like coming right from his gut. And instead of a voiceover saying, you know, “My opponent does X, Y”—it’s him.
AMY GOODMAN: Screaming.
RYAN GRIM: Yes. Somebody called him the candidate most likely to kind of reach through the TV and grab you by the throat. He’s in a district that Trump won by 49 points, and he’s running even right now. And so, if they can win races like that on a populist platform, then that really does change the dynamic.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But there are quite a few—for instance, in California, there’s something like five Republican-held congressional seats—
RYAN GRIM: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that are in districts that Hillary Clinton won substantially, and so we may not hear really what the results are, in terms of—’til we hear what happens in California.
RYAN GRIM: Right. And we did hear one that I think is a bit of a bellwether, and it’s Donna Shalala down in Miami, who ran a pitiful campaign. The party kind of dragged her through the primary, a 77-year-old freshman congresswoman, if she wins. Everybody expected her, in the last couple weeks, to fall short, because she had run such a poor campaign and was not a—not thought to be a good fit for the moment. She won. And so, if the kind of resistance movement energy can drag somebody like her across the finish line, then that bodes well for a lot of these other candidates.
AMY GOODMAN: And Donna Shalala was, had been?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Health and human services secretary under Clinton.
RYAN GRIM: Right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And before that, she was the dean—or, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, which brings me to—
AMY GOODMAN: Where you’re from, Jeremy.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I am from—yes, I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And there are two very interesting races there. The polls are still open there, but there are going to be other polls closing in about eight minutes. You have Governor Scott Walker, who is—who was, at one point, one of the celebrities of the kind of modern GOP. And he is under a lot of siege right now. Tony Evers, who’s running against him, is not the most charismatic candidate, but he was sort of the consensus candidate among a lot of Democrats in Wisconsin. There were some much more fiery people that were vying for that. And then you also have Tammy Baldwin, who—you know, her big issue always has been healthcare. There was talk that if Hillary Clinton had won, she would have been the health and human services secretary. That’s been a vicious race in Wisconsin, where her opponent is using—he’s operating straight from the Trump playbook. And so, you know, Wisconsin, of course, was one of the three states that, conventional understanding says, gave Trump the White House. It’s going to be interesting to see if there is a pushback now in Wisconsin.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ryan, I’d like to ask you also about the gubernatorial and the legislative races, because, obviously, this race will determine the legislatures that will then redistrict after the 2020 census, and the issue then of what happens with the gubernatorial races—
RYAN GRIM: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —what you’re seeing there.
AMY GOODMAN: And just one announcement: ABC News is projecting that Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly has lost—
RYAN GRIM: OK.
AMY GOODMAN: —to his Republican challenger, Mike Braun.
RYAN GRIM: Right. And that—
JEREMY SCAHILL: And Mike Pence’s brother apparently won his congressional race.
AMY GOODMAN: In Indiana.
JEREMY SCAHILL: In Indiana.
RYAN GRIM: They spent big money in Indiana, Republicans did, boosting the Green Party candidate at the very end. The two biggest donors to the Green Party guy were the Republicans’ like campaign manager and his brother, or something like that. You can google the details. But yeah, they went heavy. And Democrats have done the same theme in a few districts, pumping money behind Libertarian candidates, you know, pushing their Facebook ads around. So, Donnelly was hurt by that and made himself vulnerable to it.
AMY GOODMAN: And this does mean that this ends the Democratic chances of taking over the Senate.
RYAN GRIM: I can’t see any way that they get to it at that point, because they’d have to win pretty much everything at that point, right? But, you know, so, on the governors, it’s interesting that he lost in this Rust Belt state while a lot of governors are performing extremely well. So we had Tom Wolf win very easily over a Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate. This Lou Barletta is somebody that Trump intervened in the primary to drag into the general election.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Infamous anti-immigrant—
RYAN GRIM: Absolutely.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —mayor.
RYAN GRIM: Mayor of Hazleton, who—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Hazleton, right.
RYAN GRIM: —basically introduced the country to these kind of new anti-immigrant laws. And so, he got annihilated in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a very interesting state this time.
Ohio seems to be going well for Richard Cordray, who was the head of the CFPB. Elizabeth Warren campaigned heavily for him. She only participated really in two races: that and Katie Porter, her co-author, who’s another professor running for a House seat in California. So you’ve got Ohio. Then you have Illinois, that was just called. Then you have Michigan, where Gretchen Whitmer is poised for a victory.
Wisconsin, like we talked about, Walker is trailing in the polls. And as I’m sure you’ve seen, like over the last two years, Democrats won so many Republican district special elections over the two years, that Scott Walker tried to cancel them. So, the people were retiring, and there were seats opening up, and he said, “No. Actually, you know what? Yes, it’s a 20-point Republican district. We’re not going to do this.” And the Supreme Court forced him to do it, and they ended up losing.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Amy, I know we need to take a break.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to talk more about Wisconsin in a moment. We’re going to take a 1-minute break. But Ryan will stay with us, Ryan Grim of The Intercept. We are co-hosting with Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. Naomi Klein is also with us, now of The Intercept and Rutgers University professor of journalism. And Rashad Robinson, Color of Change. This is Democracy Now! We’ll give you an update at the top of the hour. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: This is a Democracy Now!-Intercept joint special, covering the 2018 midterm elections. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and Jeremy. It’s 9 p.m. Eastern time. Polls closed in Arkansas just half an hour ago and are closing now in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, here in New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming, as well as in parts of Michigan, South Dakota and Texas.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Florida, Democrat Donna Shalala has defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar in the 27th Congressional District. Democrats also picked up a House seat in Virginia, where Democrat Jennifer Wexton ousted Republican Barbara Comstock in the 10th Congressional District. Meanwhile, multiple news outlets are reporting that billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker has won the Illinois governor’s race. He was running against incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. In New Jersey, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has been re-elected. And ABC is projecting that Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly has lost to Republican challenger Mike Braun. A win for Donnelly had been seen as crucial for Democrats to take control of the Senate.
Meanwhile, a number of key races are still neck and neck. In Florida, Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis are locked in a tight race for the governor, while Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott are locked in another tight race for the Florida Senate.
In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley has officially become the state’s first African-American congresswoman, after she defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Representative Michael Capuano in the primaries. There was no Republican on the ballot. She’s running unopposed.
JEREMY SCAHILL: In Georgia, the Republican secretary of state, Brian Kemp, is still leading over Democrat Stacey Abrams in the race for governor. There’s just about 15 percent of the vote counted. And as our guests have been pointing out, large urban areas, large metropolitan areas have not yet reported. If she is elected, Stacey Abrams would become the first black female governor in U.S. history. This race has been marred by widespread accounts of voter suppression, including from Abrams’ opponent, who is in charge of the voting system in the state, as well as racist attacks against Abrams.
In Kentucky, Kim Davis, the—you may recall her—the county clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, lost her bid for re-election. Also in Kentucky, Republican Andy Barr is leading over Democrat Amy McGrath, with more than 90 percent of precincts reported. Democrats had hoped to take the toss-up race. And in Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence’s brother Greg just won his race for Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re joined by an ongoing, moving, rolling roundtable of guests, and we’ll be here with you until at least 1 a.m. Eastern time. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and Jeremy Scahill.
At the New York table, Naomi Klein is with us, senior correspondent for The Intercept and the inaugural Gloria Steinem chair of media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where Juan González also teaches in the Journalism Department. Naomi’s latest book, The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists. We are still with Ryan Grim, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept. And also with us here in New York is Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.
From Atlanta, Carol Anderson is with us, chair of the African American Studies Department at Emory University, author, most recently, of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Soon, we’ll also be going to Stacey Abrams’ gathering. We’ll be joined by Aimee Allison, who is the head of She the People.
Also, in Washington, D.C., we’re about to be joined by longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader. But still with us in D.C. is Mehdi Hasan, the columnist for The Intercept, host of their Deconstructed podcast, host of UpFront at Al Jazeera English.
Mehdi, I know you have to go, but as you heard that roundup of races, another race that I believe has been called is the defeat of Leslie Cockburn in Charlottesville, Virginia. The longtime journalist has been defeated. She was defeated by Republican Denver Riggleman, who won the U.S. House in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. But, you know, you were—you have these observations, as a person who doesn’t come from this country, about our election system, and I’m also interested in asking Naomi about this, as a Canadian American. People don’t realize how voting can be different. And I’m curious about how people vote in Canada. Here just at Democracy Now!, person after person who voted today encountered scanning machines. In the place that I voted, two of the three scanning machines were down, which meant there were lines, at the quietest time, out the building, in the midst of the pouring rain. People were waiting hours to be able to vote, and this was not at a busy time. But your final thoughts, Mehdi, as you leave us tonight?
MEHDI HASAN: I think it’s a tragedy that you have a president of the United States who’s willing to spend millions of dollars sending troops to the border for a caravan that’s not getting here anytime soon and that doesn’t require troops, to begin with, and yet the United States government, at every level—and this is not just a Republican thing; when Democrats are in control, as well—are not willing to spend money on infrastructure, on election infrastructure, on voting infrastructure.
Part of the reason, as Ari Berman pointed out in the first hour of your broadcast, that there are long lines there is because they weren’t expecting such a high turnout, and they therefore didn’t spend the money. But also part of it is because they don’t want people to vote—the Republicans, in particular. In Indiana today, you had a story—you had voting machines—you had polling stations open two hours late. And when the Democrats said, “We should keep them open two hours later to compensate, so it’s a full 12 hours,” the Republicans went to court today to try and get those polling stations closed down. The judge said, “No, we’re keeping them open an extra two hours.” But what more evidence do you need that one party in this country doesn’t want people to vote?
And I think Georgia is the most interesting example of that. You say “about other countries.” No other country I know of in the Western world would allow a situation as you have in Georgia, where Brian Kemp is secretary of state. He’s in charge of overseeing the election and the voter rolls and the rules and the polling stations, and he’s also running for governor. And we’ve seen what he’s done with that power in the last couple of days, making ludicrous charges about the Democrats hacking the elections, you know, voter purges, shutting down polling stations. And Congressman Ro Khanna of California said, I think last week, that if Stacey Abrams loses by a very tight margin, she shouldn’t concede. And I’m totally with him. I mean, there is no way that that is a free and fair election in Georgia. It’s such a crucial election. We talked in the last hour about how she would be the first black woman elected governor in the history of the U.S. It’s such a crucial election, that if she loses by a narrow margin, that’s the kind of place the Democrats shouldn’t just roll over.
In Florida, we’re seeing people are getting really nervous. I mean, I’m feeling—you know, it’s always—it’s always Florida. Andrew Gillum, in that tight race there, if he loses—again, don’t forget, there’s an amendment today in Florida which will hopefully pass and allow 1.6 million—
AMY GOODMAN: It just passed.
MEHDI HASAN: Oh, fantastic! There you go.
AMY GOODMAN: Mehdi Hasan, yes, Rashad Robinson has just reported—
MEHDI HASAN: Fantastic!
AMY GOODMAN: And let’s not forget, it needed 60 percent.
MEHDI HASAN: But they couldn’t vote today, Amy, is the key point. Those 1.6 million people can vote in the future, felons, but they couldn’t vote in this election. And that, in itself, is an outrage, good news though it is that they can vote in the next one.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mehdi Hasan, we want to thank you for being with us. Rashad Robinson, let’s talk about the significance of this, the largest enfranchisement of Americans in the last century, since women got the right to vote back in 1920.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I can’t overstate how important it is. Actually, my second job out of college was on the national campaign to end felony disfranchisement, which was a campaign that was developed after the Bush v. Gore recount and the issue became sort of a national call to action. And I spent years training formerly incarcerated people and their families to tell their stories, to talk about that a lot in Florida and a lot in other states that still have work to do.
And our team, this election cycle, you know, canvassed, and door after door that we hit in so many communities, people told us the stories of their fathers, their uncles, their aunts, who could not vote. And, in fact, many of the organizers that we hired and our coalition partners hired were people who were returning citizens and formerly incarcerated folks who were leading this campaign.
I do want to uplift one person: Desmond Meade, who led this campaign. I remember sitting on a panel with Desmond several years ago, before they had collected the signatures, out in Las Vegas at a conference on putting ballot initiatives forward. Desmond Meade, who’s formerly incarcerated, had the vision to not only put this on the ballot, bring forward, but also build a big enough tent, of folks on the left and the right, kind of this stalwart organization that you expect to work on this, but many that you don’t. And this was really led and driven by formerly incarcerated returning citizens—Desmond Meade, so many others—who, around the state, had conversations and moved this forward.
And this will be a tremendous victory for democracy, for what it will mean two years from now, for who’s part of the voting polls, but the message that it also sends to folks as we have deep conversations about our unjust criminal justice system and what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be heard and counted and visible, regardless of whether you’re privileged or vulnerable, majority or minority, or in favor or out of favor with whoever’s in power. I just think this is tremendously important. And for black and brown communities, who have been hit the hardest by this, I hope people are feeling incredible.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, let’s talk about this further with Carol Anderson. Carol, this is exactly what you write about. I mean, let’s look at the numbers. George W. Bush ultimately won with 500 votes in Florida over Gore. President Trump took Florida by something like 116,000 votes. We’re talking about 1.4, at least, million Floridians now being able to vote. In a minute, we’re going to play a clip of Desmond Meade. I was just with him in Melbourne, Florida. I was interviewing him on the stage, as he talked about who is it that will be able to vote. But the significance of this, Professor Carol Anderson?
CAROL ANDERSON: The significance is just—is that to understand, first, that the felony disfranchisement laws are a vestige of Reconstruction. It is when the South was trying to figure out: How do we reinscribe slavery by another name? How do we take these black bodies, that are now free, and begin to strip them of rights? And so, first you get the criminalization of blackness. And then you get that when they then leave the criminal—leave prison, that now they’re stripped of their rights. And so, stripped of the right to vote is one of the key ones. And Florida did that in the 1860s. Alabama did it in early like 1901. So these are vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow.
And so, to then have now, in the 21st century, enough vision and political power and will to say these are human beings who deserve their rights, this is an amazing victory. And think about it. To have this kind of victory in the kind of toxic soil, political soil, where we are right now is a testament to that organizing, to that visioning. And what it can do politically is astounding. It’s going to transform Florida.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, the potential for the Florida example to be picked up in other states, as well. It’s such a large and influential state. It clearly may mean the end of Florida being a swing state, as it’s so commonly referred to. Although, Amy, I might question you about whether this is the largest disenfranchisement, because—
AMY GOODMAN: Enfranchisement.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Enfranchisement—the 26th Amendment, in 1971, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. I don’t know how many people were involved, but I would think that that—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s interesting.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that brought quite a few people into the voting process.
RYAN GRIM: The other important thing here is that it reminds people that some felons can vote.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes.
RYAN GRIM: You know, I haven’t seen polling on this, but just anecdotally, talking to people who have been convicted of felonies, they all think they can’t vote. And that’s not actually true.
AMY GOODMAN: This is so significant. In Vermont and Maine, you can vote from jail.
RYAN GRIM: Right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah, right.
AMY GOODMAN: But you brought up, Rashad, Desmond Meade.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And I wanted to go to Desmond Meade, this remarkable man who has dedicated his life to this amendment, the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, who’s leading the fight to—who led the fight that just won. Amendment 4 has passed. He himself an ex-offender, but he calls himself a returning citizen. And this is what he had to say.
DESMOND MEADE: So, how many of you all in the audience ever had those like balloons that says “Happy Birthday” or “Get well soon” or “Congratulation, graduate”? Raise your hand if you have. Raise it high in the air. How many of you all ever went to a—keep it raised, keep it raised. How many of you all ever went to a memorial, you know, where you have the white balloons and you release them into the air? Raise your hand. If you’ve ever released a balloon in the air, raise your hand. All of you all would be felons in the state of Florida, if you were caught by law enforcement, and you would not be able to vote for the rest of your life.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
DESMOND MEADE: Because it is a third-degree felony.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m a New Yorker. I’m a New Yorker.
DESMOND MEADE: It’s a third-degree felony to release multiple helium-filled balloons in the air.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Desmond Meade, the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, just scored an enormous victory. The Florida Legislature had set the bar very high. They had voted that amendments had to pass by 60 percent of the vote. And when I was down there, it was polling at 70 percent.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I mean, it was really hard to—I mean, this has been a conversation for a while now of putting an amendment, and people did not want to do it. You know, you have to have a lot of money to not just collect the signatures to get on the ballot, but then to run sort of an effective campaign in a state that has multiple media markets. And so, there was always questions about was it possible, was it going to be a waste of money, raising the money to like get it on the ballot in the first place. And I just think, not only to have this win, but to have this win being led and run by those most impacted and their families, I just think is also a model about for how we can run and win the type of campaigns and move our democracy forward, by having the most impacted people at the center of their own fight for liberation.
AMY GOODMAN: This latest news, NBC is reporting Republican Governor Larry Hogan has defeated Democrat Ben Jealous in Maryland. Hogan is the first Republican governor to win re-election in Maryland since 1954. And this news from Tennessee: Republican Congressmember Marsha Blackburn has defeated Democrat Phil Bredesen for Tennessee’s Senate seat. Ryan Grim?
RYAN GRIM: So, in Maryland, he was expected, in the last several months, to lose pretty badly. And a lot of it had to do with the Democratic Party actually being quite fine with Larry Hogan. And there are a number of different reasons for this. And I actually talked to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently, who’s a Democrat who lost in 2002, and—
AMY GOODMAN: And let’s just say that Ben Jealous was the former head of the NAACP.
RYAN GRIM: Right. And so, part of this, in her estimation—and I think she has a point—Maryland, because it’s next to Washington, D.C., it has this inferiority complex within its political structure going on. And that inferiority complex has set up kind of an immune system that says, “If you’re a very smart and talented person who’s in the Washington, D.C., area, and you happen to have lived in Maryland for a long time but done work as, say, the head of the NAACP, and you decide that you want to run for statewide office in Maryland, we’re going to reject you.” You have to be somebody like a Rushern Baker, who was over at—you know, a PG County politician, somebody who came up through that kind of structure. At the same time, Maryland has like five different pieces to it. And so, the governor is able to pick them off and play them off against each other. As long as he gives enough money to Montgomery County, then Montgomery County is going to say, “You know what? We’re fine with a Republican governor. He gets the roads paved. We have a veto-proof majority in the Legislature.” And so they don’t fight it ideologically. If it were a Senate seat, I think Ben Jealous probably this year beats Larry Hogan.
NAOMI KLEIN: I mean, it’s a big loss. He was a great candidate. And, you know, he was one of the very few candidates that was talking about climate justice. One of the things that has barely been talked about in this campaign is that we are in the middle of a global climate crisis. During the midterm campaign, you had this groundbreaking IPCC report that came out, not that you see it reflected at all, but that told us we had a mere 12 years to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 45 percent. And meanwhile, the U.S. has been bashed by record-breaking storm after record-breaking storm. Puerto Rico has still not recovered from Hurricane Maria—barely mentioned during the campaign. Ben Jealous is a climate justice warrior, in addition to being strong on so many other issues. And it would have been a very important victory.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I think this is something that we’re going to have to look at throughout the night, because Ben Jealous also represents—
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad Robinson.
RASHAD ROBINSON: —the sort of ways in which the establishment and the insurgents were competing and colliding with one another. He was very much sort of out of the sort of Bernie Sanders movement. He was one of the most sort of visible and powerful black spokespeople for Bernie Sanders. But the NAACP has had a deep relationship with Baltimore for a while. Their headquarters are in Baltimore. Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman from Baltimore, used to run the NAACP.
And so, some of the sort of attacks on Ben were not always fair. And I think a lot of it came down to the fact that there were a number of establishment candidates who ran in that sort of primary, that had a number of black folks in the primary, had a number of voices, and after the primary ended, the party could not unify, and they could not get behind the candidate. There were still some like hurt feelings, some issues with, I think, feeling like someone else should have won, and they couldn’t align. And I do think that, once again, this does speak to the infrastructure of the party, which has been deeply damaged, not always as strong as it needed to be to be able to get people in line and get people behind the candidate, when necessary.
RYAN GRIM: And the voters in Maryland—Democratic voters in Maryland, particularly white ones, also have this kind of fantasy that there is a reasonable Republican Party. And so, when Bob Ehrlich ran in 2002, he ran kind of as a moderate, and they were excited by that. They love the fact—and then, when he became a right-winger in office, they threw him out. They love the fact that Larry Hogan, as a Republican, trashes Trump. You know, his policies, he’s actually more supportive of him, in general, but he’s very good rhetorically at playing the anti-Trump guy. And Democrats love that. They love having their views against Trump validated by a Republican. And so, he may have even won Democrats by the end of this night.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Ryan, I wanted to ask you—much has been made about the enormous amount of money that the Democratic candidates raised.
RYAN GRIM: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In some cases, more than Republicans. Beto O’Rourke, the money was just pouring in. Could you talk about this, how this has developed, and what it signifies?
RYAN GRIM: Right. And Ben Jealous actually suffered in this, because Ocasio-Cortez, who had raised a lot of small-dollar donations, won on the same night that he won his primary, and she kind of blotted out the sun. And national donors—national small-dollar donors are, in general, much more interested in Senate and House seats than they are in governorships. They figure, “This is a governorship. This is between y’all. You guys figure this out.” And so it’s much harder for a Jealous to nationalize that and bring in those small dollars.
But so, ActBlue is the platform that people—that Democrats use to collect small dollars and distribute them to candidates, which grew out of the Howard Dean campaign. It raised—it celebrated raising $2 billion in January, since from 2004 up until now. Between January and October, it raised another $1 billion.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Wow.
RYAN GRIM: Which transforms the Democratic Party. That’s the kind of money that a party needs to be competitive on a national level without corporate PAC money thrown in. Now, what you’re hearing from people in Washington is, all of these candidates are being told, “OK, yes, you managed to raise a million dollars in a quarter on small dollars without corporate PAC money, but that’s only because everybody hates Trump, and there’s all this energy. You’re not going to be able to keep that up. You know, you need to actually absorb the ecosystem here in Washington. You need to start taking PAC checks. You need to play by the rules here, or you’re not going to have the money when everybody has gone home and they’re not panicked anymore.” So far, these candidates have been resisting that pressure, and that will be one of the most interesting things to watch for in the new class that comes into Washington.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Ryan, what is—you did a lot of groundbreaking reporting that also, at times, infuriated powerful Democrats. There was a while where Steny Hoyer was very upset with The Intercept on a number of fronts, going after him for his attempts to stop progressive members of Congress from making Yemen a front-and-center issue. Now—
AMY GOODMAN: And explain who Steny Hoyer is.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Steny Hoyer is the minority whip in the House of Representatives. He is one of the most important and influential Democrats in either house of Congress and, really, one of the main people that sets the agenda, the legislative agenda, but also the political agenda. But not so much about Steny Hoyer, but the reporting that you and your colleagues in our political bureau in Washington were doing on these insurgents who were running against Democratic incumbents in the primary. What is the legacy of that, going forward now, for the Democratic Party?
RYAN GRIM: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, you had Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer continuing to back candidates that were the opposite of what they—of the kinds of people that they said they wanted to run. What happens now, next January, when this Congress is seated on those questions?
RYAN GRIM: Yes, well, I mean, some of it depends on how the rest of the night plays out, because these results are going to weaponized by both sides. If Andrew Gillum ends up losing, you immediately will hear people from Third Way and DLC and the corporate groups saying, “Look, see. You nominated somebody who was too liberal. If you would have just gone with one of these people that Gillum beat, he would have coasted to re-election.”
Third way, which is kind of the kind of corporate conglomerate that makes the case for these centrist candidates, has already been pushing out this narrative that—I think they say that 32 of 37 of their candidates in primaries won. But Dave Dayen, for us, actually went through this list of 37 and found that something like 17 of them didn’t have opponents; another 10 of them had opponents in name only—you know, people who get their name on the ballot but then don’t raise a single dollar and don’t do any events—and that, in fact, they were about even. New Democrats won some; progressives won the other.
But now, progressives have to win. You know, one race people are watching closely is Kara Eastman out in Omaha. Third Way has already been publicly celebrating that she’s going to lose. They’re certain that she’s going down. So, if she wins, that helps the left say, “No, look, it is not just that we prefer these policies, but it’s more pragmatic, it’s smarter. You win this way.”
And it goes back to the point that Betsy Reed was making earlier, which is that around the world we’ve seen that these kind of center-left, milquetoast social democratic parties are no match for forces like the Trump administration or Bolsonaro, and you have to meet kind of—you have to meet that force with something equal to it, or you might hang on for a little bit, like they did in Brazil, but then, eventually, some force comes in that picks up the entire working class and annihilates the kind of corporate.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And all indications now, it seems to be that—I mean, it is still too close to call. We should always clarify that. But there’s a likelihood that the Democrats could retake the House. Is it a shoo-in then Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker again?
RYAN GRIM: So, actually, these results don’t bode very well for her at all. So, you need 218 to win the House. There are at least eight people who have said that under no conditions will they vote for Nancy Pelosi on the House floor. So that puts her number at at least 226, plus—
AMY GOODMAN: Rashida Tlaib was one of them, who—
RYAN GRIM: And she just won.
AMY GOODMAN: —does appear to have won.
RYAN GRIM: And she just—she beat John Conyers III in the general election. He didn’t get enough signatures to get in the primary, so he ran in the general. So, right, she’s won. And there are both left and right. There are different reasons that they’ve said they won’t vote for her. So, if they’re all there, she needs at least 226. And if they come in with something around that, not only does it become a math problem for her, but it becomes a disappointment problem. You know, if they were expecting to pick up 30 to 40 seats, and instead they pick up 25, the voices in the party that are saying, “Look, enough already. Enough. Like, at what point are you going to step aside and try something different?” are going to grow louder. And so that eight then becomes 16 or 20. And at that point, then she doesn’t have the votes on the floor. So, she needs this wave to get a lot bigger to stay in, if they do take the House.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Is Barbara Lee, as we mentioned this earlier—is Representative—the notion that she might run for that post, is it viable?
RYAN GRIM: So, she’s very close to Pelosi, you know, politically, personally.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Geographically also.
RYAN GRIM: Geographically also. So, she would not challenge—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah.
RYAN GRIM: —Pelosi as an insurgent. But if Pelosi stepped aside, then she’s certainly somebody that people would start running behind. I’ve heard people say that Pramila Jayapal, who’s very young, but there’s—I mean, very new to Congress—is somebody—
AMY GOODMAN: Of Seattle.
RYAN GRIM: Of Seattle—somebody who’s interested in it, because—well, it’s obvious why. But Mark Pocan, who is the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, people talk about him. But then there are also the more—the corporate wing of the party, they’re making their moves, too. There are interesting things going on within the CBC, where you have James Clyburn, who is the number three, being urged by some of his colleagues to run for a higher position. But a lot of members of Congress think that—
AMY GOODMAN: He is African-American, from South Carolina.
RYAN GRIM: Right, he is, from South Carolina, a civil rights leader, that some people—a lot of people think he’s being pushed, knowing he would lose, so that his seat opens up, so that other people—Cedric Richmond, Marcia Fudge are both interested in Clyburn’s seat. So, that would—it gets the musical chairs going. As long as these three leaders—Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn—sit in those chairs, nobody else can dance.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And they’re all—they’re all over 70, as well.
RYAN GRIM: Right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: In sort of a—after an election where we’re seeing so many young, next-generation folks leading, the question will be, is sort of like: Who are the sort of next-generation folks that take on leadership roles in the party, that sort of prepare us for the type of people we need out in the world talking and spreading the Democratic message in 2020, if everyone is sort of over 70 years old, sort of in the leadership?
RYAN GRIM: Right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Represents sort of how—how is the party sort of speaking about a message that pulls us into the future?
RYAN GRIM: And the politicking has already started, if you guys saw this report a couple days ago, that it said the Congressional Black Caucus demands that one of the two top positions be an African American. In fact, that wasn’t true. That’s not what happened. Cedric Richmond wrote a letter on his personal stationery and signed it, “Cedric Richmond, chairman, Congressional Black Caucus.” He’s stepping aside. Karen Bass will probably be the CBC chair next term. But the CBC did not vote on and endorse this letter. There was only one name on it.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah, but the CBC does that all the time. When they decided not to—when the CBC PAC decided not to endorse Donna Edwards two years ago, they did the thing where, “Oh, that was just a couple of members that did that, that spoke up on this thing.” But Cedric Richmond, as the head of the CBC, writing on his stationery and signing his name—
AMY GOODMAN: Congressional Black Caucus.
RASHAD ROBINSON: The Congressional Black Caucus—and signing at the bottom, “Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus,” and then saying, “Well, I didn’t”—
RYAN GRIM: Well, he’s not saying that.
RASHAD ROBINSON: “I just did”—
RYAN GRIM: He’s happy with the impression—
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yes. Impression, yes.
RYAN GRIM: —that the entire CBC. But if you ask people like Elijah Cummings and others if they support that, you know, if they were behind that letter, I bet they would say no.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Ryan, to change tacks a little bit, what about the Republicans? With Ryan stepping down, how do you see—and assuming that they’re a minority party, what’s going to happen with the Republican Party leadership?
RYAN GRIM: Right, so—
AMY GOODMAN: And just to make another announcement, in West Virginia, it’s been called for Joe Manchin, so he will retain his Democratic Senate seat.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And Republican. It’s a victory for both.
AMY GOODMAN: He was a Republican before he was a Democratic.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, he still acts a lot like a Republican, yeah.
NAOMI KLEIN: And he said, “I’m a good, ol’ boy from West Virginia.”
RYAN GRIM: Yeah, he keeps—
JEREMY SCAHILL: He’s a Trump Democrat.
RYAN GRIM: Yeah, he keeps threatening to switch parties.
NAOMI KLEIN: Kavanaugh, he approved.
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, voted for Kavanaugh. And we should say, Ryan, you were the one who really started that whole story rolling by exposing that Senator Feinstein had that letter from a woman who said that Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her.
RYAN GRIM: Yeah. And, you know, at the time, there was some—there were pundits talking about how this was going on for so long that it was damaging Democrats out in the field, that Chuck Schumer hadn’t wanted this particular fight at all. He wanted to stick to whatever he wanted to stick to. And, in fact, from the Democrats running in these 20- and 30-point Republican districts, they told me that is—that that was true, that at the doors they certainly were picking up a lot of anger from white independents, men and women—more men than women, but, interestingly, women, as well. And so, you know, we’ll never know how it would have gone if that hadn’t happened, but that did have some impact.
Manchin, though, for the people that love to hate on him—and it’s very easy—if you noticed, he announced his vote about one minute after Susan Collins announced hers. Susan Collins, you know, spiked—put him through. Like, once Susan Collins said he was through, it was over. I’m pretty sure Manchin had both statements ready to go. I don’t think he would have been the person that put Kavanaugh on the court. And so, he’s certainly not the Democrat that’s with you all the time, but he’s not Shelley Moore Capito, who probably nobody here has—nobody watching has even heard of, because she’s never with you. And she’s his—she’s the other senator from West Virginia.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know another thing that I think is really fascinating? It’s whatever happened to that whole Russia story?
RYAN GRIM: Right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: That is—no, it really has been an absolute, complete nonissue in these races. Now, you could say, “Well, that’s because Trump isn’t on the ballot.” But it is quite remarkable, after we were subjected to 24/7 coverage for most of the duration of this presidency, and it’s like it just evaporated. It’s just gone.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, it’ll be back as soon as Mueller comes back with his—
JEREMY SCAHILL: We’ll see. I mean, I think there’s a lot of nervousness on the part of the Democrats, you know, because they have set themselves up for this salacious smoking gun: “We need to see the pee tape. We need to see all the bank transfers directly from Putin to Trump.” They’ve gone so far out with passing speculation off as fact that almost anything Mueller comes back with is going to be underwhelming, particularly to people who spend a lot of time watching MSNBC. They are going to be like, “What happened? Where is the real report?” But it’s incredible. It shows you how fickle the sort of political wind—you know, the political players are in this country. It’s just immediately—it’s just gone, nonexistent.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, they also ran away from Kavanaugh. I mean, all the sort of big fights, they just—they didn’t have the strength of their convictions. As soon as polling started to show this wasn’t a good issue for you, they ran away from it. And they’re chasing the polls.
And one of the things that I think is so interesting about what’s happened in Florida is that it shows that elections can actually change people’s points of view. Right? Like you don’t need to just chase the polls. You can actually—they can be teachable moments, and things can change.
Trump certainly understands that, right? I mean, he has moved the bar to terrifying directions, right? You know, I think, no matter what happens—and this is not looking very good—this election is going to be the one where—you know, some people have still clung to this idea that he’s playing with his rhetoric, he doesn’t really mean it. But what we know now is he really means it. He has been using hateful, racist rhetoric. It turned into hate crimes again and again and again during the midterms. There was a moment where it looked like maybe he was going to pull back, and then he just said, “No, I’m going to go for it.”
And, you know, Gary Younge wrote in The Guardian today. He said that Trump kept fanning the flames “at a moment when the link between his rhetoric and violence was not simply a notion about something that could happen, but was something that was actually happening now—even as early voting was taking place.” And that, I think we will look back on, I’m afraid, as the most significant turning point. Right? That even as the hate crimes were happening, he fanned the flames, incited the hate, didn’t care about the consequences. I really think that’s going to be the most important thing about this midterm.
JEREMY SCAHILL: It looks like a bunch of institutions are calling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s race, 29-year-old—
RYAN GRIM: Yeah, how’s Crowley doing?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, Joe Crowley’s insurgent campaign against the insurgent. I believe she would be the—it will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, well, we want to turn now to Briahna Gray, the senior politics editor at The Intercept. She’s joining us from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory party in Queens. Briahna, can you hear us?
BRIAHNA GRAY: I can hear you.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: All right. What’s the situation there, at the victory party?
BRIAHNA GRAY: The situation here in Flushing is a lot more relaxed than I bet it is in your studio or in the rest of the country, because this was one that was pretty much a sure thing. Everybody here put in the work a long time ago to get Ocasio-Cortez to win her primary, which, as you remember, was an uphill battle against a 10-time incumbent, powerful party leader—future party leader Joe Crowley, that was a complete surprise to pretty much all of us in the room that day. Today is a little bit different. There is great music going. Everyone’s circulating and having food. There were people dancing a little bit earlier. And the night’s just getting started. So I feel like this is a nice little reprieve, frankly, from the stress of election night.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And as people are hearing the results from other parts of the country, any sense from Ocasio-Cortez’s people or her, for herself, how they’re reacting to whether the blue wave, that she appeared to ignite, at least among progressives, whether that’s going to continue across the country?
BRIAHNA GRAY: You know what’s funny? I spoke to a couple of people on the campaign about that, and they were so just excited about what—the successes that Ocasio-Cortez has had. They’re more interested to see what happens to other similarly situated progressive candidates than to be kind of dragged down by what happens in the aggregate. I think they see their movement as something very specific and pointed, and that the victories that are considered to be shared victories are victories of progressivism as a movement, and not necessarily partisan victories. So, that might change, and that’s based on a small sample size of people. But I think what we’re really seeing here is a particular kind of progressive energy.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I have a question, and I’ll put this to Ryan Grim, even as Briahna is there, right there at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s party. Could Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez be the House speaker?
RYAN GRIM: So, wasn’t Henry Clay elected speaker as a freshman? I don’t—go on Wikipedia.
JEREMY SCAHILL: None of us would beat you at this trivia game, Ryan.
RYAN GRIM: So, she would not be the—she would be the first. She’d be the first not to own slaves and do it. No. The answer is no. I went to an event that had a lot of Progressive Caucus members, shortly after her victory. And if you were watching from a distance, you would think that the Progressive Caucus members would have seen Ocasio-Cortez’s victory and seen it as a signal that, “Wow! You know, we’ve been fighting for decades now. Now, finally, the people are behind us. It’s time to roll on our platform, on our program.” Instead, it was like, “Why does everybody think we’re doing this wrong? You know, don’t they know how hard we’re working? We’re doing—we’re doing just fine. Why does everybody think that”—and then, shortly after that, Capuano gets defeated. So, there is a—
AMY GOODMAN: Capuano, who was a progressive.
RYAN GRIM: Progressive Caucus member.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And was supported by a number of members from the Congressional Black Caucus, even some really progressive ones, who went up to Boston and really stood behind him. And yet, this speaks to like the power of incumbency, that there’s a certain power to that institution where incumbents will protect each other, even sometimes over certain ideologies, as long as it’s about—because they recognize that like I could be next.
AMY GOODMAN: And again, Ayanna Pressley is now the first African-American congresswoman from Massachusetts. And that’s who we’re talking about today. We want to thank you, Briahna, for joining us. We’re going to be going back to you, because I know that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will soon be giving her victory speech. It will certainly reverberate all over this country.
But Ralph Nader joins us right now, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate, author of Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think. Again, Joe Manchin, we just learned, is—will retain his seat in the Senate from West Virginia, and so will Tammy Baldwin. If you can talk about her, Jeremy, from your state of Wisconsin?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Tammy Baldwin was the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, not just openly gay woman, but openly gay person. She got involved with politics in Wisconsin very young, was a state representative. And she represented one of the most liberal districts in all of Wisconsin. And a lot of people in the state were skeptical that Tammy Baldwin could win a statewide election when she first ran for the Senate now almost two decades ago. And, you know, she has been a—I would say a slightly left-of-center member of the Senate on most issues, and then she has a few core issues that she has really made her focus.
And part of why she has sort of evolved into being not—she’s not a radical leftist on most issues. She’s a very careful politician. You can say this of a lot of states. You can say it of Pennsylvania. You also can say it of Wisconsin. You have the big urban areas, where the Democrats are going to do well, and then you have large swaths of the rest of the state that elect people like Scott Walker or former Governor Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin or, one of the most reprehensible people to serve in the House of Representatives, Jim Sensenbrenner. Tammy Baldwin figured out a way to win statewide elections in Wisconsin despite the built-in attack machine against her. She is no Russ Feingold. Russ Feingold was truly a principled progressive, pretty much from top to bottom, with the exception of Israel. Tammy Baldwin is a much more careful, centrist Democrat on most issues. It’s a good thing that she won this race, because the alternative would have been a female version of Ron Johnson, who is totally in the tank for Trump on almost everything.
The key race in Wisconsin that, you know, we really should pay attention to also is the gubernatorial race. Again, Scott Walker, like Tommy Thompson before him, really is trying to dismantle all social protections. He wants to get rid of—basically wants to get rid of unions. He wants to open Wisconsin up for Foxconn, you know, these companies that are either working for Amazon or working for Apple iPhone. And he—
AMY GOODMAN: Offered billions in tax relief.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Billions and billions. And there’s a great piece in The New Yorker by Dan Kaufman this week about Foxconn and Wisconsin that I would encourage people to read. But the stakes are very high in Wisconsin. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated, if not the most segregated—it fluctuates from time to time—cities in the country. The economics of the black community in Milwaukee are devastated. The state, and that city in particular, have been repeatedly targeted by ultra-right-wing agendas being implemented by Republican governors who like to flirt with Democrats. So, not to go on about this, but I do think that what happens in the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin is going to have life-or-death consequences, particularly for immigrants and black people in Wisconsin.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to go to Ralph Nader, former presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate, author of To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course. Ralph, you’ve been a longtime critic of the dance of the duopoly of the Democratic and Republican Party. We’re seeing it again tonight. Your perspective?
RALPH NADER: Well, the Democrats are fighting the worst, most cruel Republican Party in history with one hand and two fingers tied behind their back. It’s really been astonishing, these last few weeks, Juan and Amy, where some of us were trying to get the message to the House Democratic Caucus to release and publicize the horrific votes of the Republicans. They’re against women, children, against patients, for bloated military budgets, toady for Wall Street. They wouldn’t even answer. It took Congressman Jamie Raskin to put out his own 20 most outrageous votes by the Republicans, so they could campaign on it around the country. They had a horrible record in the House, the Republicans. It’s on JamieRaskin.com, for those who want to see it.
And when you’ve got a party like the Democrats that doesn’t lay out all the arguments against the Republicans, and focuses on an abridged form of healthcare and pre-existing condition, not even mentioning public option, not even mentioning a majority of the people for full Medicare for all, free choice of doctor and hospital—much more efficient—never mentioned. They don’t have an alternative tax plan. They don’t have an alternative military and foreign policy. They don’t have an alternative immigration plan. They don’t have an alternative consumer protection plan. They don’t have a law enforcement agenda against the corporate crime wave that, from The Wall Street Journal to the Houston Chronicle, is reported on all the time, ripping off patients, ripping off poor people, ripping off tenants. That’s what I mean. They’re not using the New Deal, FDR, Harry Truman type of agenda. And if you ask them, “Why not?” and they sort of give you a double take, like, “Gee, nobody’s asked us that before. Don’t you know how bad the Republicans are?”
Well, the reason is that they want to continue dialing for the same commercial dollars. That’s the reason. And the second reason is, they’re not trained in how to rebut the nonsense and phoniness and lies of the Republicans. Example, in debate after debate that I have seen on C-SPAN, the Republican Cruz, the Republican Hawley in Missouri, would say, “Don’t you know this is the lowest unemployment rate for Hispanics and for African Americans in recorded history?” And they wouldn’t even come back. They would change the subject. They wouldn’t say, “Oh, really? Well, let’s see. You have stagnant wages. You have huge numbers of minority workers dropping out of the market. They’re not counted in the unemployment. You have huge number of workers, temporary workers. If they work 21 hours a week, they’re counted as being fully employed. And you have higher expenses. And you have huge poverty. Forty percent of the families in this country are poor.”
You saw that study, because you reported it on Democracy Now!, where almost two-thirds of the families in this country, if they were hit with a $400 sudden debt, they wouldn’t know where to get the money. And so, why is poverty not an issue? Why are 30 million workers, who are getting less today and paying higher expenses, adjusted for inflation, than workers back in 1968—why are they not confronted by the Democrats, “Go vote for a raise. It’s long overdue. You’ve earned it. You have been gutted by inflation. You have been fleeced by large employers. It’s lucky they don’t—they are not required to give you back pay. Go vote for a raise”?
Couldn’t even get the AFL-CIO to do it. You couldn’t get any of the Democratic leaders to do it. And that’s why a high official in the AFL-CIO, when I put all this in front of him—and he’s very well regarded in Washington. And he lowered his voice on the telephone. He said, “Ralph, you don’t understand.” I said, “What don’t I understand?” He says, “They don’t really want to win.” I said, “What?” He said, “They don’t want to take power. They want to win their incumbency. They want to keep the flow of money. They want to make sure they’re not challenged in primaries by insurgent progressive Democrats. But they really don’t want to do what’s necessary to win, because it ruptures their connections with powerful interests.”
So, this is a—the bottom line here, if the Democrats do not know how to respond to Trump, and they give him blanket coverage for all his tweets, all his madness, all his craziness, all his lies, the least they can do for the American people, where they live, work and raise their families, is do the bread-and-butter issues of health, safety, economic well-being, retirement security, clean air, clean water, safe medicines. At least they could have done that. But they just don’t know how to do it. Just look at the debates, and you’ll see what I mean.
There are 250,000 people in this country who die from preventable hospitals’ problems. That’s 5,000 a week. That’s the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study, and that’s not the only one. It isn’t even on the radar. It’s only 5,000 people a week dying from preventable problems in hospitals, like hospital-induced infection—a lot of correctable problems that a major national party should lead with.
How about corporate crime? There’s $60 billion of fraud on Medicare from the vendors—$60 billion a year; $50 billion in wage theft. And here’s the big one. This is documented by professor Malcolm Sparrow at Harvard, and it was affirmed by the Government Accountability Office back in 1992. Ten percent of all healthcare expenditures go down the drain due to computerized billing fraud and abuse by the vendors. That’s $350 billion—billion dollars. And it’s not even on the screen for the Democratic Party. It’s half of the military budget, for heaven’s sake. There’s a corporate crime wave. There’s no law enforcement. The Trump administration is corrupt to the core, and they don’t even raise the corruption issue as a front-burner issue. The Trump administration is dismantling the federal cops on the corporate pollution, the corporate crime, the corporate fraud, the corporate welfare beat. No sign. No sign by the Democrats.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, before Jeremy puts a question to you, Heather Long of The Washington Post just tweeted, “Arkansas voters are overwhelmingly approving a minimum wage increase to $11. (That’s a big hike and the equivalent of California’s $15). 69% of voters in favor of the minimum wage hike with ~a quarter of votes counted.”
And this breaking news from the Fox News Decision Desk. They are saying that they can now project that Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, dealing a major setback to President Trump’s legislative agenda. Maybe that’s why Sean Hannity, when he spoke at the Trump rally, started off by saying “fake news,” and that included the Fox News group that was there, as well.
RALPH NADER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: But also, these latest—this latest news: the announcement that Jared Polis has now just won the governorship of Colorado. He becomes the first gay man to win a governorship—openly gay man—in the United States. And again, this follows the announcement that it looks like Tammy Baldwin will retain her seat, and she is the first openly LGBTQ person—she was the first openly—open lesbian to take a House seat and now the first open lesbian, or gay man, to take a Senate—in the Senate. So, that’s the latest news. And that was a hotly contested race.
RALPH NADER: And, Amy—Amy, the point you were making earlier is there is huge conservative-liberal support for a higher minimum wage. There’s a lot of conservative support for full Medicare for all. They don’t want their healthcare claims denied arbitrarily, etc. There’s big support for corporate crime enforcement. There’s big support for breaking up the big banks that are too big to fail. That comes in about 80, 90 percent. And the Democrats could have woven this into an unstoppable political force.
You spend a lot of time on Democracy Now!, properly, Amy, on discriminatory injustice, but there’s not enough time spent on indiscriminate injustice against all the people who are ripped off, who are endangered—all the people. It’s like climate disruption, all the people. That’s what the Democrats didn’t do. They didn’t have the Democratic version of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America.
And they didn’t answer the question of what does the Democratic Party—what does the national Democratic Party stand for? There was a page-one story in The New York Times recently on Hispanics feeling disempowered to such a degree that they weren’t going to vote. Well, one way to get Hispanics or anybody who’s of low income to vote is to go vote for a decent wage, a livable wage, instead of the frozen federal minimum wage of $7.25. That’s the way you throw the Democrats up against the wall. That’s the way you throw Trump up against the wall.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, and—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Ralph, it’s Jeremy Scahill. You know, to add to your litany of charges against the Democratic Party, you also have the reality that the leadership of the Democratic Party supported fully Donald Trump receiving expanded surveillance powers, a record-breaking U.S. military expenditure. Trump right now is presiding as commander-in-chief over another golden era for the CIA. You have a veteran of torture and the torture program, Gina Haspel, running the CIA. You have someone that you could argue, I think reasonably, is a war criminal as the defense secretary, General James Mattis. And you don’t hear a peep ever about U.S. wars from the Democrats, until it becomes politically expedient to, for instance, start saying, “Well, we maybe should reconsider some of this aid to Saudi Arabia, because, oh, it looks like Yemen is bad.”
But I also think that there is a trend where you have former heads of the CIA, DNI, FBI on cable news all the time, sort of preparing liberals to embrace these repressive institutions.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, before you answer that question, Juan is going to be leaving us at the top of the hour, and Nermeen Shaikh will be co-hosting with us from then on. But I wanted to ask you, Juan, with this latest news, if you could comment—and then, Ralph, you can comment on Jeremy’s question at the top of the hour. Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar have just become the first Latinas to represent Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both are Democrats.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, yeah, I think the key thing we’re going to have to see for the rest of the night is, really: Has the right-wing populism of Donald Trump crested, or is it continuing to consolidate its force? And I think that’s going to be the key question we’ll see from all of these races. There’s no doubt, as we’ve seen from all of the discussion tonight, that there’s an energetic and strong grassroots movement, both inside and outside the Democratic Party, that is continuing to win victories at the local level. But it’s coming up against this corporate Democratic Party, as well as the increasingly right wing of the Republican Party. And that’s going to be the key question: Has this movement crested? Will this election indicate that? Or will it continue to consolidate in the direction of greater authoritarianism among the American people?
Because, you know, I like to quote an old-timer who’s long since gone out of style, but Vladimir Lenin used to write, in Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, that the advanced capitalist countries, the imperialist countries, end up buying off stratas of their own workers, because they have so much wealth that they’re able to spread some crumbs to the upper levels of their own working classes. So, the question is: Will this trend continue in the future?
NAOMI KLEIN: And that’s something you don’t hear on MSNBC. Nobody quotes Lenin on MSNBC, I don’t think.
AMY GOODMAN: And Juan is not only co-host on Democracy Now!, but he is also the author of Harvest of Empire: The History of Latinos in America, and everyone should read that book. Juan, thanks for co-hosting. Nermeen Shaikh will be joining us. Ralph Nader is staying with us, as is Carol Anderson and Rashad Robinson, Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Grim. This is Democracy Now!
[End of Hour 3]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! and The Intercept's special broadcast, in these [ 2018 ] midterm elections, these historic elections. It's 10 p.m. Eastern time, the point at which most election night experts believe the first swing races will be called. Polls are now closing in parts of Idaho and Oregon and Iowa, Montana, Nevada, most of North Dakota and Utah.
In breaking news, it’s actually Fox News that’s projecting Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, dealing a major setback to President Trump’s legislative agenda. As of now, the Democrats have picked up at least, it looks like, a number of seats, congressional seats. Donna Shalala won in Florida. Jennifer Wexton won in Virginia, Conor Lamb and Mary Gay Scanlon in Pennsylvania, Jason Crow in Colorado, Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey. Democrats are leading in 33 additional races nationwide in districts held by Republicans. If they win 19 of those races, Democrats will seize control of the House.
On the Senate side, it appears all but impossible for the Democrats to take control, after Republican Mike Braun defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Joe [Donnelly] in Indiana.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn has defeated Democrat Phil Bredesen in the race for Senate. In the race for Wisconsin governor, with 7 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Scott Walker is 4 percentage points ahead of Democrat Tony Evers, who, if elected, says he will reverse many of Walker’s policies.
Meanwhile, in a handful of historic fights tonight, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar have become the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In New York, twenty-[nine]-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. In Colorado, NBC News is projecting Democrat Jared Polis will become the nation’s first openly gay governor. And in Florida, voters approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights for 1.4 million formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions.
JEREMY SCAHILL: In Pennsylvania, Democrat Bob Casey has won a third Senate term. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, there’s just 4 percent of precincts reporting, but Democrat Keith Ellison appears to be in the lead over Republican Doug Wardlow in the race for attorney general. In North Dakota, with 15 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Kevin Cramer is 19 percentage points ahead of Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. In the race for governor of Michigan, the Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, is 4 points ahead of the Republican, Bill Schuette, with 17 percent of precincts reporting. And with 62 percent of precincts reporting, Ohio voters appear to have rejected Issue 1, a measure that would have reduced drug crime penalties in the state.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! and The Intercept's special broadcast. I'm Amy Goodman, now with Democracy Now! co-host Nermeen Shaikh and The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill. And we continue our rolling discussion with a roundtable of guests. Still with us in New York is Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform MPower Change, co-chair of the Women's March. Also with us, in Washington, D.C., Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate, author of Breaking Through Power. In Atlanta, Georgia, Carol Anderson is still with us, chair of the African American Studies Department at Emory University, her latest book One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Her previous book’s White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Rashad Robinson is with us, of Color of Change. And Ryan Grim is still with us, who has been closely following the elections at every level of government.
What’s your latest news, Ryan?
RYAN GRIM: This is an interesting one. So, a couple of weeks ago, the group Data for Progress identified eight House—or, state House and state Senate races that they said are critical and could flip state legislatures, and urged people to give money. People pumped more than half a million dollars into these local races, which can change the game. And I just heard from the one in Minnesota. They won their election, which means that there’s a good chance that the Minnesota House flips to blue. And at the same time, the organizing behind that helped Dean Phillips beat Erik Paulsen, so that’s another pickup for Democrats.
AMY GOODMAN: So, it looks like Democrat Laura Kelly has just defeated Kris Kobach for—
RYAN GRIM: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —in the Kansas governor’s race.
RYAN GRIM: She had the endorsement of every living former Kansas governor, Democrat and Republican. And the only reason it was close is that there was an independent who drew votes away from the Democrat.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Anderson, this is certainly your wheelhouse here. Can you share your reaction to what has just taken place in Kansas?
CAROL ANDERSON: Oh, this is just sweet. Kris Kobach is—Charles Pierce called him “Jim Crow walking.” He is the king of voter suppression. And he has just demonized immigrants and created this image of them stealing Kansas’s elections. And this just feels like vindication. It is just wonderful that the people of Kansas want no more of that kind of hatred, that kind of voter suppression. What he did with Crosscheck, that spread that cancer across the nation, that wiped out millions of eligible voters and overwhelmingly targeted—because of the focus in Crosscheck on the last name, overly targeted African Americans, targeted Asian Americans and targeted Hispanics. And to know that Kansas said, “Uh-uh, we are not going to reward that kind of scurrilous behavior,” is just sweet. I think you saw me doing my cheer when the news just came in.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Professor Anderson, we just had Ari Berman of The Nation on earlier, and he has just tweeted about this news, “The nation’s top vote suppressor [just] lost!” Professor Anderson, can you talk about what you think the significance of this is and what it might tell us about what the remaining races will bring?
CAROL ANDERSON: You know, and I think what is so important about—and I think it’s one of the things that we have been feeling over the past couple of years—is that this really horrific, bad behavior does not have consequences, that, in fact, they get rewarded for figuring out how to take American citizens’ right to vote. And so, to have this first wave of consequences, this first big hit—because Kris Kobach is huge. Remember that he was the co-chair of President Trump’s “election integrity” commission, that was designed to go hunt down and ferret out all of the supposed massive, rampant voter fraud that was happening in the United States, when in fact it wasn’t. Kobach couldn’t even point to it when he was before a judge, and prove that it was what he was saying it was. And so, but to have the voters say, “We will not reward this kind of bad behavior,” accountability—to be able to build accountability, to see it re-energized in the system, that is just wonderful. And frankly, my hope is, is that Brian Kemp will feel that sting, too, because, yeah, it’s Kobach and Kemp.
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad Robinson of Color of Change?
RASHAD ROBINSON: But I also think that this is a big—this should be a big a-ha moment for the left, in terms of where we actually need to be investing. You know, I talked about earlier district attorney races. But secretary of state races are oftentimes not completely sexy. But they are places where we can actually start really thinking about: How do we expand democracy? How do we expand the vote? How do we make voting more accessible?
There are a number of secretary of state candidates running—Jocelyn Benson in Michigan is one of them—that have really staked out really progressive platforms this election cycle. And there have been others that have run in the past that haven’t always gotten the sort of support that they needed from the larger movement. When Nina Turner, for instance, ran in Ohio, there should have been more support behind her.
It is good that we are defeating the Kobachs and hopefully sending a message to the Kemps. But we also have to be pushing forward the people that we want to be holding these positions, and putting forward a platform around what our voting system needs to look like in the 21st century.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, and, Linda Sarsour, we’re also—
LINDA SARSOUR: Exactly.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You talked about this earlier, but it does look like Max Rose has defeated Representative Daniel Donovan, Republican.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yes, he did.
JEREMY SCAHILL: That’s your district, I believe.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s my district.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And you were—maybe for people who weren’t with us earlier, just explain who Daniel Donovan is.
LINDA SARSOUR: Dan Donovan was the district attorney at one point who could not indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner on video, for the whole country to watch, for the whole world to watch. And he actually, immediately after that, won a seat in Congress. He beat a Democrat to get into Congress. He was almost rewarded for the nonindictment of officer Pantaleo.
And today he was beat. He was beat by a very young man, a young Democrat, Max Rose, and in a district that has changing demographics. It’s longtime been like the Mississippi of the North. But new immigrants, new Americans, young progressives, people of color, black people on the North Shore, a large Latino community that has come together, and Dan Donovan is out of a job. And we were the only district in New York City that gave a Republican to Congress. And now New York City has now become fully a Democratic delegation.
RYAN GRIM: And Max Rose refused corporate cash. He’s not a super progressive.
LINDA SARSOUR: No, that’s true.
RYAN GRIM: But he did say, “I’m not taking any corporate money.”
LINDA SARSOUR: Yes.
RYAN GRIM: He’s one of those people who’s said he’s going to stick by it.
AMY GOODMAN: In just a minute, we’re going to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is about to give her victory speech. She will become the youngest member of Congress. And as we wait for this speech—we’re live there in Queens—Ralph, if you could just talk about the significance of her victory?
RALPH NADER: It’s very significant, obviously. But remember, we shouldn’t exaggerate the victory of one wonderful young person, that the Democratic machine is still in charge in the national Democratic apparatus, and they’re fighting people like [Ocasio]-Cortez. They’re fighting people like her, that have won. And they block them from participating fairly in the primary. I think a lot of the—
AMY GOODMAN: And, Ralph, I’m going to interrupt, because Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have become the first—well, she will be the first headscarf-wearing member of Congress, but they have become the first two Muslim women—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yes, ma’am.
AMY GOODMAN: —in the U.S. Congress. So, your thoughts on all of these young women?
RALPH NADER: Well, it’s wonderful, because I think they’re going to raise the issue of empire, raise the issue of blowing apart the Middle East and boomeranging against our own security, smashing any kind of public budget for public infrastructure back in Michigan, and spending it on more F-35s and more bombs and more aircraft carriers. These young women are going to be very outspoken. They are not going to be super cautious, finger to the wind. And although they’re small in number, I think they can make considerable waves.
I think Jeremy Scahill should be very pleased by some of these younger candidates who are winning, because we’re seeing massive lawlessness of U.S. foreign and military policy, Pentagon procurement criminality and waste, all the way down to voter suppression—which never gets prosecuted. Isn’t it interesting? When was the last time some state official was prosecuted, convicted and sent to jail for blocking people’s constitutional rights to vote? That’s where we have to focus on Ari Berman, the enforcement issue at the local level. And then, the whole criminal injustice system, the private prisons that the Democrats never spoke about, the horrific conditions in the other prisons not spoken about, arrests without charges. Governor Cuomo said recently in a speech three-quarters of all the prisoners in New York City jails are there without charges having been issued against them. They’re waiting in prison. Where are the Democrats here? That’s what we hope the next generation of young Democrats that are starting to come to Washington—they’ve got to form a very tight progressive caucus worthy of the name, not the 75-member House Progressive Caucus that’s a toady of Nancy Pelosi, who’s going to be the next speaker.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, I want to turn to Linda Sarsour. The first two Muslim women have been elected to Congress. The first headscarf-wearing Muslim woman has been elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress. Talk about your feelings, you, too, a Palestinian-American woman who wears a headscarf. Your thoughts today?
LINDA SARSOUR: Rashida is our great-great-grandparents in Palestine’s wildest dream manifested. And she’s going to Congress, and she’s going to make us proud. She’s a firebrand. She will not back down. She will speak truth to power. And that is the kind of people that we want.
She won in a majority-black district, so let’s be clear: It wasn’t Palestinians who put her in office, or Muslim Americans who put her in office; it was black people that put her in office. And I’m very proud of her race, the way that she ran intersectionally on the issues that impact those in her district.
So, the first Palestinian Muslim American woman goes to Congress, and you know right-wing Zionists were not very happy about it. But it just shows that more young people, more people of color are becoming much more progressive on the issue of Palestine and are ready to put their money and their votes behind a Palestinian.
And Ilhan, actually, is a bigger story. She is a Somali refugee from a banned country by this administration. She showed us what she is capable of, what Somalis are capable of. They have contributed greatly to our nation. And she really came out here to show this administration, “You may want to ban people from my country, but I’m going to Congress, and I’m going to continue to build a pathway for other Somalis and other immigrants and other people representing banned countries, that they, too, can go and become decision makers and be powerful people.”
I’m so proud. I’m so humbled and honored that this happened in my lifetime. I get to say I was alive when the first Palestinian woman went to Congress. I was alive when the first Somali woman, in a hijab, who’s black and Muslim—she’s literally an immigrant, a refugee, black and Muslim and a woman and progressive.
And to be—one more very important point also when we talk about the Democratic Party. Let’s be clear here: The Democratic Party did not support Rashida, either, right? So, these are women that were not supported by the, quote, “establishment.” Rashida was supported by the Our Revolutions, the Indivisibles, the kind of Justice Democrats—kind of all these, quote, “swing lefties,” kind of fringe—or, they’re not fringe in my opinion, but fringe to the Democratic Party. So, these women, across the board, including people like Ayanna Pressley, were not supported by the infrastructure of the Democratic Party, so we don’t actually need the Democratic Party as an infrastructure to organize. It is grassroots organizations, like Color of Change, like all the progressive groups that you see around, like the Democratic Socialists of America, which I’m very proud to be a member of, who put people like Rashida and people like Ilhan and people like Ayanna Pressley in Congress. So we are going to be the ones to build that—continue to build that progressive infrastructure as we go into 2020.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s remember what Rashida Tlaib did at the Cleveland Economic Club, when Donald Trump was running for president and she interrupted him.
LINDA SARSOUR: She sure did.
AMY GOODMAN: She stood holding the Constitution. And we’re going to try to go to the clip of that moment.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, and got dragged out by six security guards.
AMY GOODMAN: To say the least, it was a rowdy, angry, defiant moment of Rashida Tlaib, just before, I think, she decided to run for Congress.
RASHIDA TLAIB: [inaudible]
AMY GOODMAN: For our radio listeners, what we are watching is Rashida Tlaib, who is waving her hand, being taken out by security. Rashida Tlaib, who would go on to run for Congress, and tonight—she was chanting, “Have you ever read the U.S. Constitution? You need to read the U.S. Constitution!” she said to Donald Trump, very much bringing us back, Linda, to the Democratic convention, when another Muslim family stood up and pulled out that Constitution—
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: —and said to Donald Trump the very same thing.
LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. I mean, I will never forget the Khans, when they stood up. And nobody really was expecting Khizr Khan to pull out that Constitution as an immigrant himself and as a South Asian American. And it was like a defining moment of what does the Constitution mean and who does it apply to, and that the president of the United States of America should upholding it. So, that was a moment that kind of stuck with the Democratic Party. We can—I’m not going to get into too much detail. They kind of exploited it a little bit too much, in my opinion, but I don’t want to go down that path.
But I think the—but Rashida comes with a different type of sense of Constitution. She’s a civil disobedience activist and organizer, and has been. She’s a civil rights attorney. And she’s Palestinian. And she just won’t back down. And I think, watching her go from engaging in an act of civil disobedience in front of Donald Trump and then going to a place of power, where she’s going to be part of the majority party in Congress, is absolutely poetic justice at its finest.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Ralph, you’re a Lebanese American. You’re an Arab American, consumer advocate. You’ve run for president a number of times. Your thoughts today on this Palestinian-American woman, the first Palestinian-American woman to become a member of Congress, not to mention—yes, your thoughts?
RALPH NADER: Well, we’ve had a Palestinian man in Congress: Justin Amash from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He spoke out on behalf of the Palestinians tepidly at the beginning. He’s been very silent. You’re not going to get silence from Linda—excuse me, you’re not going to get silence from Rashida.
JEREMY SCAHILL: That’s also true.
RALPH NADER: Linda made a very important point, that she was elected with overwhelming African-American support. This is a very important coalition that develops among minorities.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, we’re interrupting you, but we’re going to come back to it the other end of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speech. She’s just come up on the podium, hugging people as she goes, the youngest person in Congress in just a few months.
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you. Thank you all so much. Everyone, let’s give a huge round of applause to the incredible activists Alexandra Rojas, Samelys Lopez and Mrs. JoAnn Whitehead, who just introduced us. Thank you all so much. I almost cannot believe, but it is the honor and privilege of my life to be able to say and to thank you and to thank all of our supporters and organizers and the people and our residents of the Bronx and Queens for electing me as your next congresswoman. Thank you.
We have made history tonight. We have made history on multiple levels. We have elected the first campaign and the first member of Congress from this district to not accept any corporate lobbyist funds in a generation. In a district that is 70 percent people of color, half immigrant and overwhelmingly working-class, we have elected the first person of color to ever represent the people of New York’s 14th Congressional District. And lastly, it is a privilege and an honor to say that we have also elected the youngest woman in American history to serve in Congress.
This is what is possible when everyday people come together in the collective realization that all our actions, no matter how small or how large, are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change.
Words cannot express my gratitude to every organizer, every small-dollar donor, every working parent and dreamer who helped make this movement happen. And that’s exactly what this is, not a campaign or an Election Day, but a movement, a larger movement for social, economic and racial justice in the United States of America.
When I started this campaign a year ago, I was working in a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. And it wasn’t because—and we didn’t launch this campaign because I thought I was special or unique or better than anyone else. We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them. We launched this campaign because no one was clearly and authentically talking about issues like the corrupting role of money in politics, like the disturbing human rights violations being committed by ICE, by the fact that no one was giving voice to the idea and the notion that an entire generation is graduating with crippling loads of student loan debt, a ticking time bomb for our economy. No one was talking about these issues. And when no one talks about them, we have the duty to stand up for what is right.
I think about oftentimes that incredible day on June 26th, when, despite no attention, despite no media fanfare, despite the fact that no one wanted for us to get the word out on what was going on, we were able to organize everyday people, knocking on our neighbors’ door. And despite being outspent $4 million, 18 or 13 to one; despite the fact that we were running against a 10-term incumbent; despite the fact that it was your first time running for office; despite the fact that we didn’t have the money; despite the fact that I’m working-class—despite all those things, we won. And I think—
OCASIO-CORTEZ SUPPORTERS: ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede!
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: ¡Sí se puede!
OCASIO-CORTEZ SUPPORTERS: ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede!
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: And—gracias. I think about the excitement that was unleashed on that day, not just in our community, not just the sense of hope, not just the sense and realization that we can organize to enact change, not that it just got unleashedhere, but it got unleashed across the nation and to our down-ballot candidates this September.
I think about that excitement, because what was so interesting to me was that it was not a partisan fight that led to that. It was not a partisan victory that led to the unleashing of that excitement, because I think we all know, deep down, here and across the country, that our deepest challenges are not left and right, they are not red and blue, they are top and bottom, they are right and wrong, and that if we are going to turn this ship around as a country, it is not good enough to throw a rock at our neighbor’s yard. We need to clean up our own house. That’s what we got to do.
There is nothing inherently noble about protecting a status quo that does not serve the needs of working-class Americans. And when we talk about the restless pursuit of a more perfect union, that, in and of itself, is a baked-in commandment to evolve as a nation, to grow better and to be better. And right now who we are as a nation is that we have a crooked path, and it is time to make that crooked path straight.
Right now, it is not good enough, and we cannot tolerate the fact, that we are a nation that grows our jails faster than we grow our schools, that we are a nation that builds more empty homes than the people it houses, that we are a nation that fears others more than we welcome them, that we destruct more in conflict than we construct in peace, that we neglect more than we heal. We can do better, and we can be better, because a better world is possible.
If we continue to believe that we are a threatened, scarce and limited nation, then that is exactly what we will become, because in the—but right now, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources. Our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources—
Oh, I’m sorry, guys. I was like, “Whoa! Room turned fast.” I’m sorry. And I think this is—but you know what?
OCASIO-CORTEZ SUPPORTER: [inaudible]
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you. But what we need to do, as well, is realize that these short-term losses do not mean that we have lost in the long run. Does not. In 2018—in 2018, we turned the state of Texas purple. That’s what we did this year. That’s what we did this year. And that is what Beto O’Rourke accomplished this year. And that is a great position to be in, going into 2020. We are going to flip that state in our generation. I’ll tell you that much right now. We will flip Texas. It is just a matter of time.
We should never be scared. There is never any fight that is too big for us to pick. We proved that this year. We proved that this year. Because when we advocate and champion the causes of our neighbors and our economic dignity, and come with an innovative and ambitious plan for our future, there is no state beyond our grasp and no community beyond victory. We just need to keep at it, because in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources, but the absence of political courage and moral imagination.
It is a hollow goal to simply be a rich country that seeks to concentrate wealth. We must also be a good nation, too. We must be a good nation that seeks to invest in and expand the potential of all human beings that live in our border. We can be that. We can be that country.
And in order for us to do that, what we need to do is—it is not enough to reject the notions of this administration. It is not enough to reject that with which we disagree with. We must advance our values and create the world that we seek to live in. That is why we say healthcare is a right to all people. That’s why we seek and chart our North Star to tuition-free public colleges and universities for all Americans. That is why we say, in our lifetime, we will dismantle a system of mass incarceration that targets the black and the brown. And that is why we will say, unequivocally, that an agency that systematically and repeatedly violates human rights cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.
We can be confident that what we are standing up for is what is right. And we will never be ashamed for fighting for what is right. We will never be ashamed for losing in the short term or having a short-term loss, in order to have a lifelong gain. We will never be ashamed of that.
These struggles that we are taking on are generational. These struggles that we are taking on are long. These struggles will not be solved in two years or four years. It will take our whole lives. But this is the fight for our lives. This is the fight of our lives. And we need to put everything on the line.
We need to make sure that we get to 100 percent renewable energy within 15—10 to 15 years. There is no question about it. And we don’t ever, ever want to have to look our grandchildren in the eye and say, “We did not fulfill our potential as a nation and our obligation to future generations, because we were too scared.” We cannot do that. Or because we couldn’t—or because we couldn’t figure out how to pay for it on day one. We will get there. When we chart our course, we will figure it out. That’s how we got to the moon. That’s how we electrified this nation. That’s how we established Social Security. That’s how we created Medicare. We have done these things.
They will always call the ambitious naive. They will always call the ambitious uninformed and radical and marginalized, because we are engaging in a change of the balance of power in this country. And there are no if, ands or buts about it. We are fighting to put more power in the hands of everyday working Americans, where it belongs. And I am so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you all in that fight, because today is a milestone, but it is really a beginning. It is truly a beginning. And in order for us to get there—and I believe that we can always get there faster than we can, faster than we think—we have to keep organizing. We cannot stop. Electoral politics is just a tool in a larger toolbox of this movement.
And we accomplished something beautiful and great tonight, but we have to keep engaged in our activism, in our organizing, in our educating, because that is what it is going to take. But I believe that we will come out of this a better nation, because I know that when we look our grandchildren in the eye, we will say we established a single-payer healthcare system, we created tuition-free public colleges, and we saved this planet in order for them to live.
Thank you very much. And I so look forward to being your next congresswoman. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: And there you have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, speaking in Woodside, Queens. She just turned 29 years old. She becomes the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. She beat the fourth most powerful Democrat in Congress in the Democratic primary, Joe Crowley. We’re speaking with Ralph Nader in this joint Democracy Now!-Intercept 2018 midterm election broadcast, going with you until 1:00 in the morning. I’m Amy Goodman, co-hosting with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill. We have a roundtable of guests around the country.
Ralph Nader, the issues she raised, the challenge to the Democratic Party, though they are embracing her at this point, can you talk about the significance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory?
RALPH NADER: Unusually impressive speech. I was quite impressed. She talked about the present, the future. She talked about short term, long term. She talked about organizing, mass organizing. She talked about climate disruption. She talked about the need for eradicating poverty, prison reform.
But there’s something always missing among these young people, and that is the overriding issue, again and again, is the corporate supremacists, who are taking control of our state, local and national government and turning it into a corporate state, turning our government against its own people.
And I’m always looking for the most progressive Democrats, however young or middle-aged they are, to talk about empire, talk about what Jeremy Scahill has documented again and again. All empires are destructive abroad, and all empires will devour themselves. And the U.S. empire is no exception. We’re draining huge resources to blow apart areas of the world, and starving our infrastructure, our schools, bridges, public transit, libraries, community health clinics, sewage, drinking water systems. That is what happens when empire devours itself.
And the Democratic Party is AWOL on the military-industrial complex, Hillary’s war in Libya. Hillary never saw a weapon she didn’t like, weapon system, never saw a war she didn’t like. Until the young progressive Democrats turn that around and make empire and its boomeranging effect on American security, and how attacks against civilians in this country will totally wipe out any kind of public attention to all the issues that you put on Democracy Now!, we’re not there yet, Amy. We’re not there.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I’m here with Jeremy Scahill and Nermeen Shaikh. Jeremy?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Ralph, you know, I think that one of the things that we can do on a program like this that you won’t see on any of the big corporate networks is have some strategic discussions about what people who are about justice want to do with their time, and not just get involved in the horse race. And given that we have you and also one of my journalistic heroes who’s sitting next to me, Allan Nairn, great independent journalist who has exposed CIA operations around the world, with Amy, of course, survived the Dili massacre in East Timor in the early 1990s, the most dogged reporter from—certainly from the United States, arguably the world, in holding the Indonesian military, with all of its support from the United States, accountable for the mass killings, the genocide that it carried out over the course of decades—but having you, Ralph Nader, and Allan here, I think it’s an interesting opportunity to talk about what does a just and strategic response to this authoritarian administration look like. Ralph, of course, you are constantly blamed for the results of the 2000 presidential election, which is just factually inaccurate, and we don’t need to get into that. But what do you do when you have a Democratic Party, the likes of which you’re describing right now, Ralph Nader, when you also have this authoritarian regime in power right now, backed by very sophisticated, powerful figures within the Republican Party? This is not just Trump freelancing policy. People like Mike Pence know exactly what they’re doing. How do you simultaneously say we need to dismantle the duopoly, and if we don’t do that, nothing will ever fundamentally change in this country, and then find the space, given the urgency of so many situations in this country, faced by women, faced by Muslims, faced by immigrants, faced—the list can go on and on. For them, this isn’t strategy; this is life or death.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And both you and Allan, I think—I think you have different takes on this, but I’d be very interested in hearing the two of you hash this out.
AMY GOODMAN: And as you answer that question, Senator Ted Cruz has just been declared the victor in Texas. He has beaten Beto O’Rourke. He will remain as the senator of Texas. At this point, it clearly—it is clear that the Republicans will retain the majority in the Senate, and it looks like the Democrats have taken the House.
JEREMY SCAHILL: So, I mean, just to put up a [inaudible], Ralph, since Allan just joined us here, we can start with Allan. But you never have been soft on the Democrats. And, in fact, I was somewhat shocked the other day to hear you on Democracy Now! stake out a position, but ultimately I came to agree with you, when you stated that there are elections where to stop a greater evil, you have to mobilize with the forces that are there at that particular time. And I believe you said that you—if you’re not voting for Democrats or supporting the Democrats right now, you’re not anti-fascist.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. And I think what happened tonight, it’s complicated, what seems to be happening at the moment. The first thing is, it looks like maybe we’ve narrowly averted catastrophe, if it’s true that the Democrats have taken the House. That means that the incipient fascism represented by Trump and this Republican Party has a significant roadblock in its way. That’s huge. That’s really what this was all about, putting that block in, if the Democrats do in fact take the House.
At the same time, though, I think the overall results are very ominous for this country—very ominous—because it looks like the Democrats will take the House so narrowly, they’re going to lose ground in the Senate, and there are many indications that this Democratic Party is completely inadequate as a force that can stand up to the disciplined revolutionary movement that is the rightist revolution, that now holds power in the White House, in the Senate, in the Supreme Court, led by Trump.
Look at Florida. Think about it. How is it possible that, on the one hand, the initiative to end felon disenfranchisement can win overwhelmingly, can win in a landslide, and yet Gillum, who obviously was smarter than his opponent, and who everybody noted was about as good as a political candidate could be, is running, at best, 50-50? Maybe he’ll lose. Maybe Nelson, the incumbent senator, will lose. That’s the same state. Those are the same voters. You had what is arguably a very radical, progressive initiative that wins, and then you have the two leading candidates of the Democratic Party maybe losing, or at best squeaking through as winners. That shows—that’s one of many indications that this is a party that’s not up to the task.
And I think what has to be done is several things. One is, the Democratic Party has to be taken over by its base. They have to oust from power the consultant class and the big donors, who now control the party. And, you know, that’s already—that battle is already underway. It kind of started in earnest with the Sanders candidacy. There were many battles that followed that, including the race for choosing the head of the Democratic National Committee, control of the California Democratic Party. And in each of those cases, the establishment forces in the party hang on—hung on to power narrowly. But it may actually be doable. It may actually be possible to take over the Democratic Party.
I think if you had—if you put to the voters a series of questions on substantive issues, like the re-enfranchisement question in Florida, and you did it across the whole range of issues, including the policy of foreign murder that’s the bipartisan consensus in Washington at the moment—the whole gamut—I think the results of those, issue by issue by issue, votes from the American public would essentially collapse the platform of the Republican Party. I think they would win on some issues. They would win on some. But overwhelmingly, they would lose.
They would be defeated, because on specific questions of vital interest, they don’t represent the public. That’s why they’re so desperate to dismantle democracy. It’s true that part of their motivation for voter suppression—the Republicans’ motivation for voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement, is emotional, is kind of the feeling of pure racism. I mean, that’s part of it. That’s where a lot of the energy comes from. But it’s also eminently rational, because their positions are minority positions. They are not supported by the majority of the public on most questions. So they put a lot of energy, and they’ve been very successful, in rigging the U.S. political process so that their slowly shrinking minority can continue to rule.
But the flip side of that is: So, if, when people are questioned issue by issue by issue, they tend toward the progressive side, why can’t the Democratic Party represent, embody those issue positions and be much more popular than it is, especially at a moment when the right, the rightist revolution of Donald Trump and this incipient fascist movement, is threatening to change the whole character of American politics by making it harder and harder and harder to use the levers of democracy? They’re essentially trying to break those levers. So, when you put your hand on one, you try to move it on an issue, and it snaps off in your hand.
I think the Democratic performance tonight was pathetic. I mean, I urged—as you said, Jeremy, I urged people to mobilize for the Democrats, and, thank God, maybe they just squeezed over the line and barely got control of the House. And that’s a huge, historic victory. Absolutely, absolutely massive. It’s fundamental. But it shouldn’t be that close. It should be an overwhelming repudiation of this incipient fascism of Trump and the right. And that’s not what we’ve gotten tonight. It shows that we need a new, different opposition force in this country. And I happen to think—I think Ralph may disagree on this—the most practical, just in terms of political mechanics of the current United States, way to do that is to take over the Democratic Party from within. But even more important than that is organizing on the ground, on the streets, to change the tone of public opinion, to change the atmosphere. And that’ll make it a lot easier, because that’s—
RALPH NADER: Well, you know, the most—
ALLAN NAIRN: That’s what parties respond to.
RALPH NADER: The most powerful—most powerful—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, before—Ralph Nader, before—we have two updates on two key governor’s races. In Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis is at 49.9 percent, and Andrew Gillum is at 48.9 percent of the vote, with 99 percent of the vote reporting. In Georgia, with 53 percent of the vote counted, Republican Brian Kemp is at 54.7 percent, and Stacey Abrams is at 44.4 percent. Professor Carol Anderson, thank you for staying with us. Could you respond to this, to these latest numbers?
CAROL ANDERSON: Yeah. I think one of the things that I’m really seeing when I think about Georgia, frankly, is the power of voter suppression. And I’m listening to this conversation about the weaknesses in the Democratic Party and that it should be a landslide. But what we’re not taking into account is that you get more votes—I mean, we got more votes in the 2016 election. And when we’re—and Trump won. When we’re looking at what we’re seeing right now, is that the number of votes that it takes, because of the massive gerrymandering that we have going on, it still is part of that thing where it requires a blue tsunami in order to get a blue trickle. And we need to have that as part of our analysis.
When I look at what’s happening here in Georgia, we cannot forget that Kemp purged in the last two years 10.6 percent of the registered voters in Georgia off the list. We cannot forget that he closed 214 polling places, most of those in minority and poor neighborhoods. We cannot forget that Kemp has held in abeyance, in this round alone, 53,000 registered voters, 70 percent of whom were African-American. So, as we begin to look down and drill down into those numbers—and that’s the analysis that we did not get immediately coming off of 2016, is: What does it mean when we depress the vote by doing massive voter suppression? That is absolutely a key element in what we need to be thinking through.
The ground game that Stacey Abrams had is phenomenal—there is no question about it—knocking on every door, doggone near, going to 159 counties. But we see the politics of fear versus the politics of hope, the politics of change. And we see—I mean, and when I’m looking at the results coming in throughout the nation, on one hand, you get these incredible victories of a Palestinian woman becoming a member of Congress, at the same time where you get Ted Cruz winning. And so, you’re looking at a nation that is fissuring, as you’re getting the wants of the people being diverted and sidetracked via fear and via voter suppression. You’re looking down in Florida, and DeSantis is a weak candidate. But we also have to think about what the politics of fear—the politics of fear is real in American society. This is why you see the Republicans, like Donald Trump, doubling down on it, particularly driving white fear, this fear that the demographic change happening in America, as envisioned and embodied in Andrew Gillum, as envisioned and embodied in Stacey Abrams, may be just too jarring and too threatening. Kemp was one who talked about, late in the campaign and during the debate, and riding on the issue of the caravan, that what Stacey Abrams really wanted to do was to bring all of these “illegals”—and I hate that term, but he meant it the way he said it, what is to create an other, to dehumanize people—to bring all of these “illegals” into Georgia to vote, to steal the election away from these hard-working—which is coded “white”—Georgians.
We’ve got to understand the power of that. And that power, frankly, for so many—too many—is more powerful than what looking at these individual issues mean. They know what it means when you don’t have water. They know what it means when you don’t have healthcare. But it is that power of fear. That’s the work that has to be done. And that’s—you know, Rashad talked about the need to have those kinds of conversations happening within the white community. That is some of the groundwork that must happen, so that we can begin to see the kind of America that we really deserve.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts, Professor Anderson, the three African Americans running for governor—Ben Jealous in Maryland; it looks like at this point Stacey Abrams, where you are, in Georgia; and, again, it hasn’t been finally called, but Andrew Gillum in Florida—all most likely being defeated? And what happened in Georgia and Florida, the racist robocalls, right through to now.
CAROL ANDERSON: Mm-hmm, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: DeSantis talking about—right after Andrew Gillum won the primary, telling his supporters not to “monkey it up.” You have the U.S. secretary of agriculture from Florida, Sonny Perdue, talking about “cotton-pickin’”—what did he say, in these last few days? The overt—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, “cotton-pickin’ mind.” “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.”
AMY GOODMAN: “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.” The overtly racist attacks on these candidates. Your thoughts? And I’d like to get Rashad on this also.
CAROL ANDERSON: Yes, and my thoughts are that they are drilling down into old lore that has never gone away. Remember, here in Georgia, we have Confederate monuments all over the place. We still hear the language of “our heritage,” “our Southern charm,” which—and “Make America great again” is a way of—the way that Roy Moore talked about the last time America was great was when we had slavery, because that’s when families were together. So, what you’re seeing is tapping into that narrative and how powerful it is. And that is where a lot of the work must be done.
AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Gillum has just conceded.
LINDA SARSOUR: That’s the message I just got.
CAROL ANDERSON: Wow.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re thinking—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, Gillum just conceded.
AMY GOODMAN: —that he has just—the mayor of Tallahassee, who would have been the first African-American governor of Florida.
CAROL ANDERSON: Right. And these were—these were superior candidates, Gillum and Abrams, to their opponents. And so, it tells you that something is going on in the system that isn’t about the issues and that isn’t about the quality of the candidates, but has to do with that architecture of fear and of racism.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I—you know, first of all—
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad Robinson of Color of Change.
RASHAD ROBINSON: This is incredibly sad. Andrew and I have been friends since our early twenties. We have worked together and built movements together, and my organization did a lot of work on the independent expenditure side to support his effort. From a kind of a operational perspective, like as we think about like how does this actually like work and play itself on the ground, I run one of—I run the only national black civil rights organization that doesn’t take corporate money and doesn’t take government money. And so, I completely stand with this notion around how we both challenge corporate power, how we think about corporate power, like how we pivot people’s energy, but also like what I oftentimes hear from the white left is a conversation about corporate power that sort avoids race at all costs and avoids the deep conversations about how race is weaponized against black and brown communities, which makes it incredibly hard to mobilize black and brown communities around these efforts, even while the issues make complete sense, because what it means is that people don’t necessarily believe that winning on those issues means we all win together. And—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And so, just to say that I do think that these are bigger questions about what we speak to, what we center, and the work that white folks on the left are going to have to do in white communities and be really honest about their families and white people.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this conversation, but we want to thank Carol Anderson, chair of the African American Studies Department at Emory University, for joining us. Ralph Nader, Allan Nairn, Rashad Robinson will stay with us, as will Linda Sarsour. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill. Special thanks, by the way, to Julie Crosby. We’ll be back in a minute.
[End of Hour 4]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s currently 11 p.m. Eastern time. Polls are closing now in California, Hawaii, Washington, in parts of Idaho, Oregon and North Dakota. In North Dakota, Republican Kevin Cramer has defeated Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in a closely watched Senate race. In Texas, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in another hotly contested race, making it nearly certain that Republicans will keep control of the Senate.
Democrats have continued to pick up a slew of House seats across the country. In Pennsylvania, Chrissy Houlahan has won the 6th District. In Minnesota, Dean Phillips has won the 3rd District. In New York, Max Rose has won the 11th District, and Antonio Delgado has won the 9th district. In Texas, Colin Allred ousted 11-term Republican incumbent Pete Sessions in the 32nd District. In Illinois, Sean Casten has won the 6th District. In Illinois, Betsy Londrigan has won the 13th District. And in Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick has won the 2nd District. Two Native American women have also made history tonight by becoming the nation’s first Native congresswomen: Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Kansas is projected to elect its first Democratic governor since 2009. With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Laura Kelly is 8 percentage points ahead of Republican Kris Kobach. Kobach, who has a long record of employing voter suppression tactics as secretary of state of Kansas and is a Republican consultant, had served on Trump’s “election integrity” commission, which was abruptly shut down after it failed to provide any evidence of voter fraud.
In Iowa, where just 7 percent of precincts are reporting, Democrat J.D. Scholten is 5 percentage points ahead of white supremacist Republican incumbent Steve King. King has a long history of making racist and bigoted comments.
In the race for governor of Florida, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, CNN has called the race for Republican Ron DeSantis. Democrat Andrew Gillum has just conceded. In the same state, Republican Rick Scott is ahead of Democrat Bill Nelson by less than a percentage point in the race for Senate.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: There are also a number of key state ballot issues. In Massachusetts, voters have upheld protections against discrimination for transgender people. In Louisiana, voters approved an initiative to require a unanimous jury for felony convictions, defeating a 120-year-old provision that was implemented explicitly to disenfranchise black jurors and to, quote, “establish the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana.” In Arkansas, a ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021 appears poised to pass. In Michigan, a hotly contested ballot proposal to legalize small amounts of marijuana also appears poised to pass. In Colorado, a proposition that would have limited new oil and gas extraction projects close to homes and schools has failed. And in a historic move in Florida, voters have restored voting rights to 1.4 million people with felony convictions.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our roundtable of guests. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill, in this joint Intercept-Democracy Now! broadcast. We’ll be going until 1 a.m. Eastern time.
Still with us, Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change; Linda Sarsour, who’s head of MPower. We’re also—and she is also one of the women who organized the Women’s March on Washington and around the country. Allan Nairn is also with us, an award-winning investigative journalist and activist. And Ralph Nader, a multi-time candidate for president, leading consumer activist in this country.
Jeremy, you just posed a question in the last hour, as we bridge from one hour to the next., to Allan Nairn and Ralph Nader. If you can put that to him again? And, of course, the other person that we were just talking about, whose speech we just heard, is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has become the youngest woman ever to enter Congress. She just turned 29 years old. She just gave her victory speech in Woodside, Queens.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, and regarding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the entire Democratic Party machine, of course, was backing Joe Crowley. And we saw this pattern in races across the country, where you had much more progressive, in many cases younger, people challenging entrenched Democratic incumbents, and then the party would intervene on behalf of the powerful candidate. In fact, Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, was caught on tape trying to dissuade insurgents from running against Democratic incumbents.
I bring that up because, you know, Allan’s, I think, very accurate point about Trump pulling the rightist oligarchs from the Republican Party kicking and screaming back into power, the flip side is also true, to apparently tonight, where Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should be thanking the Alexandria Ocasios of this political scene for helping them to achieve what appears to be probably a very slim victory tonight. So, it should be a lesson for the Democratic Party on which way the winds are blowing in terms of the energy.
But the question I was asking both Allan and Ralph—and, Ralph, I’d like to hear your response on this—is: Given all of the dire threats to people posed in the immediate moment under this administration with Brett Kavanaugh in a lifetime appointment now on the Supreme Court, generations of reverberation of the consequences of that, but how do you take on the duopoly when you can make a reasonable case that these elections actually are a matter of life and death for some of the most vulnerable people in this society? Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: First of all, you don’t sacrifice a competitive electoral process. You’ve got to have more voices and choices. Historically, third parties, starting with the anti-slavery Liberty Party in 1840, have pushed the Democrats and Republicans to adopt everything we like about what we inherited from prior generations, for labor, for farmers, for environment, for Social Security, for Medicare, for progressive taxation, for labor union rights, for minority rights, civil rights. They all started with a third party. So let’s not forget about the rights of candidates to get on the ballot. There is voter suppression, but there’s also candidate suppression, which I’m quite familiar with.
Second, let’s look at the positive side of this. A few years ago, no one would ever have dreamed that black candidates running for governors of Georgia and Florida would be anywhere near competitive. They wouldn’t even be running. And they just barely missed winning. Why? Because of grassroot voter turnout—grassroot voter turnout—neighborhood by neighborhood, overcoming registration obstructions and identification obstructions. Where the people won, as you’ve noted, Amy, in the last two hours, referendums, for example, for increased minimum wage in Arkansas and the great victory in Florida—why? Because voter organization.
So, the most powerful tool to turn this country around, to have the country led by a government that wages peace, that pushes peace treaties, not state terrorism around the world, as Allan knows so well, it’s the Congress, the Congress, the Congress. It’s the most powerful branch, and it’s the smallest branch, and it’s the most personal branch. We know their names. And 535 of them put their shoes on every day like we do. And it’s all about Congress watchdog groups all over the country. I mean, I am so focused on this, I’ve even written a new fable called How the Rats Reformed Congress, which shows how you can organize Congress districts all over the country.
Now, $100 million from some enlightened billionaire can organize groups in every congressional district, that would turn around Congress, with left-right support already on the ground, for living wage, full Medicare for all, the student loan racket being dealt with, the tax system being changed, the criminal justice system. There is left-right support, but there’s no organized focus summoning the senators and the representatives between elections to town meetings made up of the people’s agenda.
I want to emphasize that again. A near-billionaire, whose name is Nick Hanauer, from Seattle, he writes for Politico, most eloquently about the need to raise the minimum wage. And he says to his business colleagues, “Are you crazy? You have a larger minimum wage, you have a livable wage, you have more consumer demand, more sales, more jobs, more profits. What are you? Crazy?” He made something very important, Amy and [Nermeen], recently. He said, “If the Democratic Party does not go markedly left, they will not go to where the center is.” And the polls show that there’s overwhelming support—55, 65, 75, 85, 90 percent—for major domestic redirections. And once you pit infrastructure investment, that’s supported down at the local area by the Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, workers, young people, against the bloated military budget and the bloated corporate welfare, crony capitalist budget, you will get left-right support for a redirection ordered by Congress—ordered by Congress, 535 people. Remember that.
All the victories tonight, because of voter turnout, and still, by the way, half of the people are going to be classified as staying at home. It’s up from 2014, to be sure. That’s why some good victories have occurred. But half of the people stayed home, and we know who those half largely are. They’re poor blacks, poor Hispanics, poor whites, dispossessed people, disrespected people, underinsured people, underpaid people, excluded people. That’s where the Democratic Party has failed. And that’s why you have a civic movement, not a Democratic Party movement, in every congressional district, that brings left-right together, that mobilizes voter turnout, to improve the lives of people where they live, work, raise their family. All this red state-blue state, conservative-liberal begins dissipating. The abstract ideologies begin dissipating. That’s the way people are controlled for over 2,000 years: divide and rule on abstract ideologies.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, in one of the victories of this evening, in Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids is projected to have won Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District, unseating incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder. Meanwhile, Democrat Deb Haaland has won a House seat in New Mexico. They become the first Native American women elected to Congress. So we go now to Madison, Wisconsin, where we’re joined by Gyasi Ross, author, speaker, lawyer and storyteller. He’s a member of Blackfeet Nation and host of the podcast Breakdances with Wolves. Gyasi Ross, your response to this news?
GYASI ROSS: Well, obviously, it’s a—I mean, it’s redundant to say that it’s a historic night. This literally has never been done before. And it happened to, just in very, very true Native fashion, be done twice by Native women. And just for the folks who do not know, with the Native communities, this is very, very common that Native women lead the charge. Anything that happens amazing within our communities is usually led by Native women. And Sharice Davids—Congresswoman Sharice Davids—let me show the proper deference and respect—and Congresswoman Deb Haaland are no exception.
Importantly, I want to point out that, you know, it’s really cool, and representation absolutely matters, and so it’s an important thing that just Native women showed that they can do this. Of course, they’ve been always able to do this, but they were precluded, as Ralph pointed out, that there was a level of suppression from the candidates. But I don’t only want to focus on the identity politics, because identity politics are important, the representation is important, but also Congresswoman Sharice Davids and Congresswoman Deb Haaland also bring this indigenous women act right sort of notion that they’re not going to be able to single-handedly clean up Congress. Nobody can do that. It’s entrenched. It’s something that’s been happening for a long time. But they’re going to bring a level of pragmatic brilliance and also functional assertiveness that will absolutely be able to move the meter, be able to move the line just a little bit, and will hopefully be able to get something done within Congress.
Now, both of them bring sensibilities as a community organizer, and both of them have a sensibility of service, in true indigenous fashion. I want to give a shoutout to Thunder Valley, which is where Congresswoman Sharice Davids cut her teeth. And it’s an organization on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that does amazing things for sustaining housing and providing jobs in a place where jobs are a rare find. And Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland both have that background of providing service at the most molecular level to Native communities. So it’s absolutely well deserved. It’s about damn time. And it’s amazing. It’s absolutely appropriate. And we couldn’t have two better representatives in Congress for Native people—and for all Americans, by the way.
AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] to Gyasi Ross, author, speaker, lawyer and storyteller, responding to the fact that, for the first time, I mean, two Native American women have become members of Congress, this for the first time ever. There’s also petropolitics that have entered various movements around the country, put forward, for example, in Colorado, Proposition 112, which was a proposition that any kind of oil or gas drilling had to be set back 2,500 feet from vulnerable areas like schools and homes. It was a people’s initiative. It had very little funding. It was up against millions of dollars on the part of oil and gas corporations. And it has been defeated. Gyasi Ross, your thoughts on this?
GYASI ROSS: You know, man, we have—I just want to bring attention to a race in Montana where Senator Jon Tester is facing Matt Rosendale. And Jon Tester, you know, he’s somebody who was in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, and I actually had to advocate for him because his notion of exploratory and extractive industries, it’s definitely there, and that’s something that obviously, Amy, that none of us want, but he’s at least been honest about that. Matt Rosendale, as a congress—or, as senator, excuse me, has forwarded the idea of just full-out exploration and development of all Montana. He’s a real estate developer from Maryland and would open up everything.
And so, just to get to your point—I don’t mean to distract—but, yes, the petropolitics—I’ve never heard that term before—are certainly at the forefront of a lot of these races. And the candidates that have been proffered forth by President Trump are usually people who are “drill, drill, drill, baby” candidates. And in that regard, it’s been a very clear choice, hopefully, that we’ve been organizing to defeat some of these people who have been so adamant about extractive resource—I mean, extractive industries being the dominant regime. We need to get away from that. We need to keep it in the ground, as some of our folks say.
AMY GOODMAN: We should also say that another amendment in Colorado, Amendment 74, which was put forward by the oil and gas industry, has been defeated, as far as we can tell right now, in Colorado.
GYASI ROSS: Amazing. And to the degree that we continue—and I also want to bring up that in Washington state, we have—I am blanking on the number right now, but it’s a carbon fee ballot initiative that’s been put forth by a consortium of both community organizations as well as tribes to make sure that the largest polluters have to pay their fair share. And I think that is something worth checking on throughout the night, Amy. I’ll give you the exact number of that ballot initiative in a second.
AMY GOODMAN: And while you do that, Cook Political Report has just said—made this projection: Today is the first day in history Americans have elected more than 100 women to the U.S. House of Representatives.
GYASI ROSS: That is amazing. That is amazing. The initiative, by the way, is Initiative 1631, and it’s for a carbon fee in Washington state. So, for any folks who are still voting—have the polls officially closed there? But, if so, vote yes on 1631 for that carbon fee.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Linda Sarsour, you led—you were one of the major organizers of the Women’s March that took place all over the country 24 hours after President Trump was inaugurated. Your response, the first time in U.S. history 100 women have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives?
LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, this new wave was—it comes out of the catalyst that we created that first day after Donald Trump was inaugurated. Like I said, 20,000 women stepped up and said that we’re going run for office. During the Democratic primaries, over two-thirds of the wins in those Democratic primaries were of women, many of whom super-duper left progressive women—let’s make that very clear—many women who were not supported by the establishment of the Democratic Party.
I would also caution us of celebrating all women. I mean, I celebrate those hundred women who won, Democratic women, but let’s look at the demographics of who voted those women in. Let’s also remember many of them are women of color, Native American women, Latina women, black women winning, Palestinians, Somalis, winning across the country. I’ve been looking at the results, and I think I have to say this as one of the leaders of the Women’s March: huge disappointment. You know, we’re looking—I’m looking at Texas as an example. There are demographics that have come out that were tweeted by The New York Times: 59 percent of the white woman electorate in Texas voted for Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is anti-reproductive rights. He’s anti-immigrant. He’s anti-women. He was a champion of Justice Kavanaugh. I mean, it is absolutely outrageous that we continue to have to explain to white women that their liberation is bound up with the liberation of all women around the country, and that they should and deserve agency over their own bodies.
So, I want to be clear that there are women going to office, but who’s electing those women to office? Black people, overwhelming majority, are going to the polls, in the huge numbers, in the 90 percentile, voting for Democrats in these elections. Black men, Latinos, in a little bit of less ration, but trailing behind African Americans in how they’re going out to the polls. So, I’m really disturbed right now by watching the demographic breakdown of those that are supporting. And I just want to add one more thing, because I’m leaving in a little bit to, myself—
AMY GOODMAN: But let me just say, though, that Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar became the first Latinas to represent Texas in the U.S. House. Both are Democrats.
LINDA SARSOUR: And in large Latino districts, in large people of color districts. So let’s remember also where people are winning and who’s voting for those people.
And I just wanted to say something, and Jeremy was saying this earlier, and I hope that what happens tonight is a lesson for the Democratic Party and it is a lesson for people who are running for office in the future, especially as we get into 2020. And I’m going to put this on the table right now, because I know that these conversations are going to start tomorrow, when everyone is going to be positioning who’s running in 2020. There is a fear—there’s a politics of fear. And what Democrats do immediately when there’s politics of fear coming from opposition is they cower. They stay away from the Palestinians. They stay away from the leftists. They stay away from the socialists. They stay away from those of us who are actually creating the momentum and the energy that is on the ground. Right?
So, for example, in a lot of these races, there was this—”socialism” became a bad word, right? But it is actually a lot of Democratic Socialist women who went to Congress. Ilhan Omar is a Democratic Socialist. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Socialist. Rashida Tlaib is a Democratic Socialist. So, let’s remember who is getting elected by who and on what platform.
The other thing I’m going to tell the Democrat Party, because the Democratic Party—like, I’m not their people. I vote Democrat as harm reduction. I don’t vote Democrat because I’m so excited and honored to be part of the Democratic Party, because the Democratic Party is also—doesn’t have a foreign policy platform that works for us and works for young people, works for antiwar folks and works for people like me. So what’s happening is, and what happened in so many of these races—and maybe we’re going to analyze this—voter suppression is absolutely part of why some folks are going to lose races, but it’s also because they didn’t have a foreign policy platform. Even Alexandria, who I love dearly, doesn’t have a foreign policy platform. She doesn’t have a lot of information, if you asked her about Iran. You can ask her about Palestine. We saw some of those kind of exchanges that she had, that didn’t kind of go very well.
So what I’m saying to the Democratic Party is this, is that you cannot win from the center. You cannot win without a foreign policy platform. And you cannot win without talking—like Uncle Ralph said, you’ve got to talk about empire, and you’ve got to talk about Puerto Rico, and you’ve got to talk about issues that nobody kind of wanted to touch in this election. And then the minute the opposition comes in with fear politics, we cower, right? We want—”Oh, AIPAC is mad at us. Oh, those folks, the pro-Israel groups, are mad at us.” If you’re not going to go all the way progressive, you’re just not going to win against Donald Trump in 2020. You cannot beat Donald Trump from the center. You have to beat Donald Trump with an alternative, visionary plan, one that speaks to ordinary Americans.
And if you’re going to run for office in 2020, you’ve got to look at this—what people thought was going to be the blue wave, this was not a blue wave. This was a blue dribble. Like let’s just be real about what just happened. We won, and we had to win, but we didn’t win overwhelmingly. And it doesn’t look good if we don’t get our act straight for 2020. So I’m imploring people in the Democratic Party to get away from the consultants and to let the party be led by those in the resistance. The resistance leaders know. We know how to get to the people. We know what the platform is. And we’re the ones knocking on the doors. We know what works for people. So, don’t say, “This one’s too radical. This one is”—because that’s exactly what’s going to happen in 2020. They’re going to start marginalizing us, right? “We don’t want to touch this. We don’t want to”—and guess what happens: four more years of fascism, maybe 20 more years of fascism in this country.
So, I’m really scared. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not—I’m a little worried. I’m glad that we won—we’re going to win the House. We’re going to have a little bit of control at least over one house right now. We’re losing seats in the Senate, which means that there could be other Supreme Court justices that come up over the next years, which is going to be horrific. But I just think that the left has to and Democrats have to understand: Do not cower to those who are not going vote for you anyway.
There’s a lot of framing and reframing of issue. There was—you know, Andrew was in a situation where he had to think about how to talk about the Dream Defenders, which were one of—alongside Desmond and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, they were also leading on Amendment 4. Guess what. The little black—the young black people, the powerful, dynamic, prolific young black people just won their amendment by over a million votes. Guess what. Andrew had to be like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t always agree with the Dream Defenders on stuff,” because they were attacked viciously by the right wing, by DeSantis, by right-wing Zionist groups who kept calling them anti-Semitic. They did the same thing to me. They used me as like a political lightning rod. And they did that to many other folks around the country, and using us and saying “socialist” and putting up red.
So, all I’m saying is that the Democrat Party has a reckoning to have. And if they don’t get that—if they don’t get their house in order real quick, like by tomorrow, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble. And the bottom line is, you’ve got to invest in people of color. The results are the one—I’m not the one saying it. The analysis is that communities of color are going out, overwhelming majority, voting the right way. Why do we continue to try to talk to—”Oh, we have to talk to, you know, white voters and white this, white middle class and whatnot”? The statistics are telling us that they’re not voting our way. Majority of them are not voting our way. And we keep continuing to reframe our issues, moving away from the progressive agenda, so that we can cater to some people, who end up not voting for us anyway at the end. So, I’m scared, and I hope they listen to us, and I hope they listen to Rashad and to Andrea Mercado and to Winnie Wong and to all these other progressives that are out running in these streets, because we’re going to lose really badly in 2020 if we don’t.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah, I mean, I think what’s—
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad Robinson.
RASHAD ROBINSON: I think what’s really important, as we think about sort of the path forward, is like—first of all, I think there are some things to sort of look at that are important and victories. First of all, no, we did not have the sort of overwhelming tide. But, you know, Republicans are the minority in this country. They did not win—they did not win the popular vote in the last presidential election. And while they like to attack minorities, they also like to be the minority and like to sort of govern from that place.
And so, what’s been interesting sort of about this past election cycle is that a lot of the sort of classic Republican enablers, many of the corporations, had to play it a little bit different. They couldn’t go all in for some of the candidates that they used to go in. And that is a result of a lot of the work that the resistance did, a lot of the work that the growing opposition did, at sort of forcing a whole set of enablers to have to make a choice of changing—of putting some things that were once clearly on the table—you started to see really no attack ads, even against NFL players, towards the end of this campaign season. There were a lot of sort of like cultural victories that the left leaned into and that we started to sort of really reframe in terms of what were issues that were really challenging.
I do think, though, that, once again, as a person who deeply believes that we’ve got to hold corporate media accountable, we’ve got to hold big corporations accountable, we cannot do it through the sort of larger framework that has been delivered to us through the largely white left institutions, that have not been able to mobilize large numbers of black folks and brown folks around the environment, even while fracking is happening in our backyards, have not been able to move people convincingly about—around the banks and other issues, that have like led to black wealth being at its lowest rate in decades, you know, in almost a hundred years. All of these sort of like big tent issues, that could be big tent issues, when they are addressed through a framework that sort of leaves out race, black people, particularly, are going to be deeply skeptical of like where you stand, who you’re actually fighting for, what you’re actually delivering on. And you’re not actually going to build the type of coalition necessary to win.
And as a person who, you know, has worked to reach a lot of black people, like we get a lot of data back around what issues resonate, how hard does it—how much does it take to actually move people on an agenda, but also how race has been weaponized over these last several years. From the town hall meetings that rose up after the election, that were largely all-white, to the white organizations, that really had huge growths in their list—my organization did not have a huge growth in its list right after the election. So, white people did not join Color of Change right after. And black people were not surprised by Donald Trump winning. And they weren’t like, “Oh, my god! Now we need some sort of resistance, because America is racist.” And so, white people joined in with other white people and had town hall meetings all around the country, and every once in a while they would throw in an issue around criminal justice or some other issue, but largely kept those issues around like, “This is not my country. This is not my America. Donald Trump hates these things,” without leaning into the things that have been uniquely American for a long time.
And so, getting out of this disaster that we are in, if we are not willing to sort of change the set of issues that we prioritize, change the frameworks by how we actually prioritize it, we are not going to have the necessary coalition and a diversified America to win, because the results that are coming in now is that we actually did not win back, in places like Texas, white women at the level that we thought we needed to in order to win.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I—OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, your response?
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, the—you know, I said in 2015, when Trump was running, that he was showing this unique ability to unleash the beast in white America. He was able to reach into people who had voted Obama because they thought Obama would do a better job in addressing the economic collapse than McCain, and get them to support him, in part because he, Trump, was a racist. He, Trump, was speaking for them as a white leader.
And one of the things that was remarkable about this congressional campaign was that Trump used only half of the strategy that he used to win in 2016. In 2016, he basically ran on two things. He was anti—he said—he claimed to be the anti-elite candidate, and he ran as a racist. This time he dropped the anti-elite. He forgot about that part. He just ran as the straight racist. And we see from these results that he was pretty successful. I mean, he came into Florida, and arguably they have turned the tide for the Republicans with—especially with a pathetically weak candidate in DeSantis. He shows the depth of that—the power of that racist appeal.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, and President Trump just tweeted, minutes ago, “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, he had some success. And that is an indication, one of many indications, of how dangerous this situation is now. It’s absolutely crucial, fundamental, that the Democrats took the House. I mean, that changes the course of American history. If the Republicans had retained control of the House, we’d be on a fast track to some form of fascism. This seriously slows that down. But the fact that it was such a narrow victory, the fact that Trump’s purely racist appeal in this campaign—purely—was so effective with so many white voters, is a very ominous sign for the country.
And I think one thing that’s necessary is to stop the idea that there’s a conflict, that there’s any basic conflict, between different forms of justice—social justice, racial justice, economic justice. They’re all consistent. And we have to bring them all together. And if you can do that, if you can become a movement for racial justice, for social justice, the poor, the working class, the middle class, you can win. But if you look at where the Democrats were looking in this election, all the incessant commentary about the upper middle class, the suburbs, the educated voters—they were saying, “We’re going to win it with the college-educated women in the suburbs”—they were talking about becoming, even more than they already are, the party of the upper middle class and stepping away even further from the working class. And if they end up ceding the white working class to the Republicans wholesale, which the Democrats are moving towards—it’s not there yet, but that’s the direction they’re moving in—if the Republicans continue to activate racism among the white population, in a way that gets people to override their other concerns, economic, everything else, you could have a situation where this right-wing constituency, that now is apparently a minority in the country, can continue to hold power for a very long time.
And don’t look to either the upper middle class or to the rich for any kind of salvation. One of the lessons from Brazil was that fascism is fine with big business, when, as Bolsonaro was heading to his victory, the markets in Brazil were soaring. And Bloomberg was reporting that they were euphoric. They saw this as their salvation. Even though many in the elites of the Republican Party were uncomfortable with Trump at first, if he wins, if he can keep them in the White House, if he can keep them dominating Washington, they will go wherever he takes them. They are not going to stand in his way. The only thing that can stand in the way of that rightist revolution is mobilizing the majority of the population. And this Democratic Party is not doing that.
And remember, look at—I think the Florida result is very, very telling. Despite all the voter suppression, despite keeping people off the rolls, the exact same electorate that turned away Gillum also, at the same time, voted for the re-enfranchisement—
AMY GOODMAN: Overwhelmingly for.
ALLAN NAIRN: Overwhelmingly, the very same electorate.
AMY GOODMAN: Which will change Florida politics forever.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. But that means that many of those voters, on their ballot, with—first they said yes to the re-enfranchisement, a radical social justice position, arguably, and then they said yes to the racist DeSantis. And then they said yes to Scott, the guy who built his career on medical fraud and who was saying he would go to the Senate to back the Republican line. Many of the same voters did that. And it’s an illustration of the fundamental weakness in today’s corporate-dominated Democratic Party that has to be taken over by its base.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, as we said earlier, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to become the youngest woman in Congress. And it’s going to be very interesting to see how several of these candidates that Linda has been talking about throughout the evening—how they end up functioning in that system, because there will be a lot of pressure on the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes, the Ilhan Omars, to conform to the party line on crucial issues. And we’ve already seen that with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the issue of Palestine, where she made very accurate, forceful comments about what the Israelis are doing to Palestine and to Palestinians, and then was confronted with it and retreated in a kind of unfortunate way to saying, “Oh, I’m not an expert on that,” but really hasn’t been able to articulate any position anywhere close to what she initially said. And I’d be curious to know what happened behind the scenes there, if it was that someone from the establishment party read her the Riot Act on that or if it was simply that she’s being honest. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
But I will say this: Our youngest reporter at The Intercept, Aída Chávez, was one of the first people to profile Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and I think it speaks to the kind of power of embedding people in their own communities. That’s generational. That’s racial. It’s religious. And I think it’s a—you know, it’s a powerful statement to news organizations that you have to be not just where the people are that you’re reporting on, but it’s very important to have people that come from those communities. So, we bring in Aída Chávez now from Washington, D.C.
Aída, I hope that I’m correct that you’re our youngest reporter, but—
AÍDA CHÁVEZ: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: OK, good. Welcome to the show. And, Aída, the significance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory tonight? It seems like just not too long ago you were having coffee with her in her neighborhood.
AÍDA CHÁVEZ: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know where to start. I guess everything about her victory is so important, especially in this time. Like I actually thought one of the most striking things about her when I met her was her age. Like I think we need younger representation in Congress. It actually makes a huge difference in the kind of legislation that we’re getting and the kind of topics that are being talked about. Like as we saw during like the Facebook hearings, having older people in Congress doesn’t exactly make for the best tech policy. And so, I think her age is important. Also, the fact that she’s a Latina. Like her district was being represented by a 56-year-old white man, and the district is actually like—I believe it’s 50 percent immigrant, and so—and 70 percent people of color. And so, it’s really important to have that representation.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about, well, first of all, your response to her victory—again, she will be the youngest woman in Congress—but also how you came to write this report on her, Aída, when you met her and where you followed her, when you understood that this person, who was taking on the fourth most powerful member of Congress, Joe Crowley, actually had a chance?
AÍDA CHÁVEZ: Right. So, it all started when my editor, Ryan Grim, told me to check out this really cool candidate in the Bronx, and so I went straight there, and we met in a diner in the Bronx, and we had a really long conversation about policy. We talked about abolish ICE. We talked about Puerto Rico. And I was really impressed with her talent and her charisma and mostly her like knowledge about policy. She—I don’t know. I would consider her a wonk. And then we took a walk around the district, and she was just explaining to me, like, it sounds like a long shot, but the key to winning the district is the fact that Joe Crowley was so far detached from the material needs of the people and that she is one of them, and she was, and we saw that in the way that she won. She had a network of grassroots volunteers, people on the ground. She posted pictures of her shoes like worn out from all the doors that she had knocked. And so, it really felt like she was the district.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, can we just—I’d like to come back to a point that you raised, Jeremy, and what you were mentioning, Linda, earlier about these Democratic Socialist or left, more progressive candidates not having a foreign policy platform now, whether that’s because they disagree with what the establishment Democratic Party represents or because they haven’t—as you said, it’s quite possible, on Palestine, that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you know, simply didn’t know or didn’t feel that she was competent to comment at the time. You know, Allan, what do you think lies behind that? I mean, is it possible that those who have broken with the Democratic Party orthodoxy on domestic issues nevertheless maintains an alliance, that is, of course, a bipartisan alliance—the Democrats and the Republicans have been allied on questions of foreign policy for much of American history following the Second World War—is there in fact an agreement, or is there a sense that maybe most people in the U.S. who support candidates like Ilhan Omar or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or the others wouldn’t actually support them if they broke on this issue?
LINDA SARSOUR: Nermeen, would you mind, because I want to hear what Allan has to say, but I have to leave—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Please.
LINDA SARSOUR: —and I actually want—this is exactly what I wanted to say about why these progressive candidates choose not to really go forth or put themselves out on foreign policy, because that’s actually the downfall of the Democratic Party. You’ll have a group of people who will agree about accepting refugees, and they want to support refugees. They’ll agree on issues of immigration reform and comprehensive immigration reform. We may agree on criminal justice reform. We’ll agree on a lot of these domestic issues. But the place where the Democratic Party has a downfall is that the same people who will support refugees and criminal justice reform then support, for example, the state of Israel or are against the Iran deal, right? So we have a problem in the Democratic Party that we’re progressive oftentimes on domestic issues, and then we’re center or actually very to the right on foreign policy issues, right? People who will support sanctions on countries, but then, for example, on progressive—on issues domestically. And that’s where a lot of the progressives and Democratic Socialists and others—that’s where they seem like more marginalized, because they become so anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, antiwar, anti-, anti-, very progressive on issues of, you know, ending unwarranted surveillance against Muslim Americans, speaking up and talking about the Muslim ban. So, the bipartisanship around foreign policy is the problem that we have, and that’s why there’s no—for me, like when it comes to foreign policy, Democrats and Republicans are all the same to me. They all blur together.
So that’s where I’m going to struggle in 2020, and my community is going to struggle. You know, when you look at an issue around Syria and where we—there’s a divide on Syria. There’s obviously a divide between the Democratic Party establishment and progressives outside of the party when it comes to Palestine-Israel. We’ve got to get those things straight now, because that is going to cause us to lose in 2020.
And I’ll end—and I’m leaving right now, and I just want to share some good news, because I like to talk about the district that I’m from as an organizer. Today, not only did we win back a House seat that we needed to have in order to win back the House—so Max Rose defeats Dan Donovan in a district in New York City that was the only district that had a Republican representative—and we also just took out our state Senator Marty Golden, who is—was a very powerful man in the New York state Legislature, who was beat by a young 30-year-old progressive candidate in our community. So, on the local, local level, where we are seeing some more kind of progress, but it wasn’t enough on—it wasn’t enough for the national level, I do have some hope. But I think these kinds of issues have to get straight, because sometimes people think that they could win without talking about these important issues. It’s not going work in 2020, and it’s not going to be able to take out the fascists in 2020.
And so, that’s what I’m going to be doing. I’m going to be pushing Democrats. I’m going to be pushing Democratic candidates particularly. We already know who they are. Some of them have lost before they ran, like Cory Booker. Like, if I was him, I wouldn’t waste American taxpayer dollars or, I mean, our salaries, or whoever’s going to be donating to his campaign, because he’s just not going to make it. So I would tell him to have a seat there. And there are others. I’m not going to, you know, take them all out right now, but Cory Booker was something that I felt like compelled to say.
So, I’m just very honored and grateful to be here with all of you today. Congratulations that we at least did some harm reduction tonight by winning back the House. But we have a lot—
AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Gounardes is who beat Marty Golden.
LINDA SARSOUR: Andrew Gounardes, a young Greek-American activist and organizer and lawyer, is the person who beat Senator Marty Golden, who, by the way, was the person who employed the person, Ian, who is responsible for the Proud Boys speaking at the New York City Republican Party. That’s his staffer that invited Gavin McInnes and the Proud Boys to come to that event. And—
AMY GOODMAN: To the Metropolitan Republican Club.
LINDA SARSOUR: To the Metropolitan Republican Party, where that kind of unfortunate violence that happened there. So, you know, that’s great karma. Some poetic justice tonight, and Marty Golden is one of them.
ALLAN NAIRN: And Donovan was the DA—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, Dan Donovan.
ALLAN NAIRN: —who let the police off the hook for the Garner—
LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, Daniel Pantaleo. Absolutely. So, that’s some—
ALLAN NAIRN: —the Garner murder. “I can’t breathe.” That’s—
LINDA SARSOUR: Some poetic justice tonight in both—in my district. I’m very proud of the Arab-American vote. In fact, Marty Golden said, “The Arabs don’t vote.” That’s what he said. And in fact, the Arab-American vote has increased exponentially. We saw it when Father Khader El-Yateem, a Palestinian, ran for City Council and only lost by 800 votes. That community is fired up. They’re engaged in the process. They were all over the lines today. And Andrew took out Marty Golden, who has been in the Senate for at least the past 17 years, in the state Senate. So I’m very happy about that, and I wanted to share some good news.
ALLAN NAIRN: And a factual point that’s significant: When the other day Trump was firing up his people by talking about the caravan, he said, “If they throw rocks, we’re going to tell the Army, treat them as”—
LINDA SARSOUR: Fire arms.
ALLAN NAIRN: —”fire arms, open fire.” Well, where did he get that? That’s from the Israelis. That’s the Israeli practice, for decades, since the First Intifada. They would open fire on people throwing rocks. And now, today, every Friday, in Gaza, as people come out to protest—sometimes they don’t even have to have a rock, just standing there with a press vest on—
LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely, or nurses.
ALLAN NAIRN: —or just standing there as a nurse, or—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Or particularly if you have a camera.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. And the Israeli snipers just pick them off.
LINDA SARSOUR: Or also, during the caravan conversation, he literally said, “Well, the reason why we’ve got to stop the caravan and to protect our borders is because there’s definitely some Middle Easterners who are, you know, hiding around”—I don’t know how he knows that. And he said that, and it was aka Muslims, you know, so basically knowing that the American people may not be too afraid of men, women and children who are Central American, but they sure in hell will be afraid of the Muslims coming over the border. And then Mike Pence, to your point, who’s supposed to be a little more intelligent than Donald Trump, when asked to respond around the, quote, “Middle Easterners”—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah.
LINDA SARSOUR: —coming on the caravan, he actually said this: “Well, in a group this size”—
JEREMY SCAHILL: There must be some, yeah.
LINDA SARSOUR: —”there are bound to be a couple of Middle Easterners or Muslims.” I mean, it’s just so ridiculous, the rhetoric. And I will say also, the reason why I’m going to be really hard on Democratic candidates is because the last election, this president won his election on the backs of Muslims and the vilification of Muslims and using national security as a tool to instill fear in the American people, and we cannot have Democrats running about Muslims being the eyes and ears against terrorism, and just using us as a national security talking point.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know what? Another point—and this is a trend that I find incredibly disturbing, and I keep bringing this up, and it just goes nowhere. But the liberal embrace of the CIA, the NSA, the FBI—the “intelligence” community—is a really dangerous trend, and, you know, the cable airwaves are filled with all these former heads of DNI, CIA, etc. John Brennan, you know, who was—
AMY GOODMAN: I’m just going to interrupt for one second. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has lost her race in Missouri.
LINDA SARSOUR: Can I just say one quick thing about Claire McCaskill? I was in a Senate meeting one time, and we were talking to her about some issues around immigration reform. And she was like, “Look, you don’t understand. I come from a very conservative district, so I can’t be about your issues.” And she literally said that. And I said to her, “Well, when you don’t create an alternative, when you don’t become a true progressive and hold your Democratic label as a Democrat, one day you’re going to lose your seat.” And here we are right here, because this is what Democrats think is going to happen: They want to run from the center, and then they create no alternative. And then, what ends up happening? They end up losing their races.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Claire McCaskill famously recently talked about the crazy—was it Democrats?
LINDA SARSOUR: Oh, she meant—she means like the Alexes of the world.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Who go to the restaurants and to protest the politicians.
LINDA SARSOUR: Yep, that was Claire. And there she goes. Poetic justice number five. Or, what are we on? Are we on number seven right now?
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, just in the moments we have here, just to finish the point that I was making, you have John Brennan, who is very, very close to some of the most powerful people in Saudi Arabia, was in the CIA, ran the CIA’s operations in Saudi Arabia. Then he—Obama tried to make him his CIA director in his first term, and there was actually something resembling a spine among Democrats, and his appointment was blocked. And so Obama had to create a non-Senate-confirmed position for John Brennan. Then John Brennan ultimately succeeded in becoming CIA director.
Why do I bring him John Brennan? Because this was the guy who really redetached the leash that certain elements within the CIA were on, and gave it the stamp of legitimacy because it was Barack Obama, the constitutional law scholar, Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was president, and then they unleashed this drone warfare, fully empowered the paramilitary division of the CIA and special operations forces. John Brennan is now part of the hashtag #resistance. And he—
LINDA SARSOUR: Not mine.
JEREMY SCAHILL: He was encouraging people to vote for all these former CIA and intelligence operatives that were running. You see similar statements from James Comey, Michael Hayden, James Clapper. And then, with Trump implying that the U.S. military forces could open fire on people that threw rocks, you had all of these people say, “Oh, no, no, no, no. No military commander is going to give that order. Soldiers, professional Army, they’re not going to follow that order.” Have any of those people been paying attention to the bombing of buses full of children, to the bombing of weddings, to double-tap strikes? I’m not even talking yet about what’s happened under Trump. This was under Obama.
People have lost their minds because of Trump-Russia, because of how bad everything is about this administration, to the point—and I think this is going to be one of the enduring damaging aspects of this moment, was the failure of liberals, of the Democrats, of many people to the left of center, to understand none of these institutions are friends of justice, none of these institutions are friends of the truth. You know, it’s sort of the emerging Bill Kristol wing of the Democratic Party. These risible neocons, who should only appear in public to be questioned about their role in war crimes, have now become part of this elite consensus where Trump is the uncouth outlier and not a reflection of a bipartisan political system that has been controlled by corporations for a very, very long time. I think it’s a very dangerous trend that we’re seeing play out, to the cheers of cable news hosts and reporters for the most important newspapers in the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us to Lee Fang, investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection—
JEREMY SCAHILL: He is not part of the problem!
AMY GOODMAN: —of money and politics. Lee, if you could just start, as we’ll move into the next hour, as well, on your response to the latest news that Democrats have taken the House, Republicans have gained one more seat in the Senate, and they have kept the Senate?
LEE FANG: Well, you know, one of the first kind of impressions I had is that Social Security and Medicare have been saved tonight. If Republicans kept control of the House and continued control of the Senate, that would have been first on the chopping block. You know, Republicans have long eyed both programs, wanting to privatize Social Security, wanting to further privatize Medicare and reduce those benefits. And they were likely to take those steps if they had retained control of Congress. It’s something they didn’t want to do before this midterm, wanting to focus instead on tax cuts. But that was on the agenda. And frankly, it’s been saved. So seniors and folks moving into retirement can rest easy. And I think that’s the biggest kind of policy outcome from Democrats taking the House.
You know, I kind of want to avoid any sweeping observations. You know, there were a lot of kind of moderate and conservative Democrats running in wealthy suburbs that did very well. There were also very bold progressives running in swing districts, also running in Trump districts. Those are congressional districts that Trump won in 2016, held by Republicans, kind of written off by the Democrats in D.C. The DCCC, the Democrats’ campaign arm, have basically said that they wouldn’t invest any resources into those types of races. But we’ve seen, in a number of them, Democrats performing incredibly well, coming up short in several of these races. In southern West Virginia, this is a seat that’s one of the most Trump-supporting in the entire country, fairly white, working-class. This is coal country West Virginia. Trump won by 50 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. Richard Ojeda, the populist progressive Democrat lost tonight, but he brought that margin way down, losing by 10 or 12 percent. So that’s a big contrast to the 50 points that Hillary lost by. And in some of these districts where Trump won and Republicans have held these seats for a couple years now, in rural—
AMY GOODMAN: Lee, we have 10 seconds in this hour.
LEE FANG: Oh, OK. In rural Maine, Jared Golden looks like he’s going to win. He’s a bold progressive, running on Medicare for all, getting money out of politics. Again, this is a rural, white, working-class district, but the progressive message seemed to work there.
AMY GOODMAN: Lee, we’re going to continue this discussion the next hour, and we’ll summarize everything that has happened, with Democrats taking the House and the Senate remaining Republican. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 5]
AMY GOODMAN: This is a joint Democracy Now!-Intercept midterm election broadcast. It’s now 12 a.m. It’s midnight on Wednesday, November 7th. Polls have closed almost all over the country. Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives. The New York Times reports Democrats have gained more than 20 seats. They need to win 23, but many news organizations have called this at this moment. Meanwhile, Republicans have regained control—continue their control of the Senate with at least three seats: North Dakota and Indiana, where Democrats Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly suffered losses to Republican challengers; CNN also projects that Republican Josh Hawley has defeated Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.
Among the key races, in West Virginia, Republican Carol Miller, a champion of President Trump’s agenda, has defeated Democrat Richard Ojeda. In the same state, voters supported a measure that will amend the state’s constitution to strip women of abortion rights in the state. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded the race to Republican Trump ally Ron DeSantis in a closely watched governor’s race. In Texas, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. He will be back in the Senate next term. And in California, incumbent Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is leading by just 5 percentage points over Kevin De León, also a Democrat, running to Feinstein’s left on a progressive platform, with around 10 percent of precincts reporting.
I’m Amy Goodman, here with The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And, Amy, in the Arizona Senate race to fill the outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s seat, Republican Martha McSally leads by less than 1 percent over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, with 12 percent of precincts reporting. With 64 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Josh Hawley is in the lead in Missouri’s Senate race, 10 points ahead of Democrat Claire McCaskill. In Wisconsin, where 80 percent of Democrats—with 80 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Tony Evers is in the lead ahead of Republican Scott Walker in the race for governor.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In a look at some of the key ballot measures across the country, in Oregon, voters are poised to strike down an effort to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary state law. Massachusetts voters approved a measure to protect key rights for transgender people. And in Ohio, voters rejected a measure to reduce prison time for drug offenses.
Abortion rights were also on the ballot in a handful of states. Alabama appears poised to pass a sweeping constitutional amendment that could strip away abortion rights. Meanwhile in Oregon, voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have barred the use of public funds for abortions, except when an abortion is medically necessary.
Marijuana legalization measures were also on the ballot in a handful of states. In Missouri, voters approved an amendment to legalize medical marijuana. And Michigan voters approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. But in North Dakota, voters rejected a measure to legalize recreational marijuana.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now by a number of guests. Allan Nairn is still with us, investigative journalist and activist. And we’re also joined now by Norman Solomon. Norman Solomon, who is a political activist and, as well—well, Norman, why don’t you talk about the organizations you’re with—RootsAction and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy? We’ll get that description in a moment. Lee Fang also still with us, with The Intercept. Norman?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, a lot of—
AMY GOODMAN: And your reaction to all that has taken place—
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yes, well—
AMY GOODMAN: —with the Democrats taking the House and Republicans increasing their margin of control in the Senate by, it looks like, either three or four races that they have won tonight?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, like so many groups around the country, the group that I coordinate, RootsAction.org, has been working for the past many years to try to turn around the kind of politics we have in this country. And I’m really struck at the kind of watershed that I think we’ve hit in the last couple of years, where there’s been a tremendous upsurge of activism at the grassroots, and that this separation between social movements and electoral work has been, I think, narrowed considerably, that so many people understand, more than ever, out of necessity, that it’s no longer sufficient to get into this either/or thing—that either you fight the right through electoral processes and fight for progressive causes through electoral processes or you do it in terms of grassroots organizing and protest and public education. It’s a false division.
And if we get away from some of the maybe, sometimes, overly facile temptation to polemics and spend more time on dialectics, we’d see the simultaneous truths—that, for instance, there is one war party with a Democratic and Republican wing, that we have tremendous corporate power exerting anti-democratic influence and leverage through the Democratic Party, and it’s even worse in the Republican Party, and it’s all unacceptable. At the same time, when we look at what’s happened now in the last couple of years, the dominance of the Republican Party over the White House, over Congress and increasingly over the judicial branch, we have that responsibility to grab the tools available to fight what I think Allan was calling earlier, quite correctly, incipient fascism, grabbing more and more of levers of power, of government, in this country.
And so, I’m—although, of course, we’re disappointed with a lot of the results tonight—what happened with the governor’s races in Florida, in Georgia, the Senate race in Texas—that they were close is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing from social movements. And one of the misconceptions, I think, certainly among politicians—and sometimes we buy into it too much—is that somehow social movements are or should be subsets of electoral campaigns. And that’s totally bass-ackwards, that electoral campaigns should be subsets of the social movements that have always made the changes that we can be proud of in this country, and always will.
And so, what we talk about in terms of the ongoing perpetual war—now, we’re what? in 18 years—that leadership to move against what Martin Luther King called the madness of militarism, that’s never going to come from Capitol Hill. It’s never going to come from the White House. It’s always going to come from social movements. And while there were many issues that the polls tell us have overwhelming support, not just from Democrats, but the whole population—for instance, higher taxes on the wealthy, Medicare for all, $15-an-hour wage, expanding free tuition for colleges, environmental protection, progressive criminal justice reform—all the polling shows between 60 and 75 percent, across-the-board support from this population, and there’s sort of mild and sometimes better-than-mild advocacy for those positions coming from Democrats.
And at best, O’Rourke in Texas, Gillum in Florida, Abrams in Georgia, in these statewide races, because of social movements and grassroots organizing, they were able to come very close, and they certainly articulated and embodied those positions. But when you get to the top of the Democratic Party, there’s nobody home. They’re not interested in propagating that. They’re too busy currying favor with Wall Street and the military-industrial-surveillance complex.
So, for instance, I mean, let’s face it, it’s quite likely Nancy Pelosi will be the speaker of the House next time; Chuck Schumer, of course, now the minority leader again coming up, it looks like. Well, earlier this year, when President Trump proposed an 11 percent increase in military spending, not defense spending—we sometimes call it wrong; it’s not defense spending, it’s military spending—11 percent increase in an already bloated and murderous military budget, both Pelosi and Schumer quickly put out news releases saying, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with this increase in military spending by President Trump.” And while there are many issues that have been made possible to percolate upwards to even some of the Democratic Party leadership—I would say, first, from the Occupy movement, and then through the Bernie Sanders campaign and many others involved—when it comes to challenging the warfare state, we’re not there, whereas a lot of these economic issues, because of grassroots movements, we’ve been able to move the dialogue somewhat in the electoral arena.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s get Lee Fang to comment on that. Lee, you’ve covered the intersection of money and politics—in politics for The Intercept, and this midterm, I mean, it’s a historic amount, $5.2 billion in the House and Senate races. Could you comment on that?
LEE FANG: Well, look, in the first two years of the Trump administration, the president has an enacted, essentially, a big business agenda. He has appointed pro-business judges at the fastest rate of any modern president. He’s slashed regulations on business to a degree that we’ve never seen in modern history. And he’s delivered one of the largest corporate tax cuts in American history. These are the policies that corporate America wants, whether you’re in the defense industry, energy and what have you. And to keep these policies moving forward, we’ve seen an increasing degree where corporations and wealthy individuals, CEOs and investors, have been pouring money into super PACs and other big-money funds to keep Republicans in office and to keep two more years of similar policies going forward.
At the same time, Democrats have really latched onto anti-Trump fervor in this country. Trump is an outlier, in many ways, in terms of his tone, in terms of the kind of outward white identity politics, the kind of hate that he uses through his tweets and through his campaign rallies, and that’s energized small donors to a degree that we haven’t seen since the 2008 Obama election. So, we have both of those dynamics happening simultaneously, where congressional candidates—Democratic congressional candidates are mobilizing historic amounts of small-dollar donations, sometimes maxed-out $2,700 donations, but still much smaller than the six-, seven-figure checks being cut by wealthy individuals, mostly on the right.
Just look at some of the companies that have benefited the most from Trump policies. A company from where I live, Chevron, has benefited tremendously from Trump policies, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, receiving a huge tax cut that they’ve funneled back to their investors through share buybacks, and the beneficiary of EPA rollbacks of regulation. This is a company that’s funneled $6 million to pro-Trump efforts and pro-Republican congressional super PACs and other funds.
And these groups, you know, they don’t spend their money talking about the actual policies that their donators are interested in. If you look at these super PACs, groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is affiliated with Paul Ryan, or some of these other organizations, the American Action Fund, they’ve spent that money on TV ads, on radio ads, on Facebook ads, that are talking about Colin Kaepernick, about respecting the flag, about—you know, posting incredibly racist ads that show MS-13, that darken the image of people of color and candidates of color, that kind of have scary music, and discussing issues of immigration and refugees.
That’s coming from companies that ostensibly are very pro-diversity. Chevron and other companies that are funding these groups love to tout their interest in diversity, in showing off their multiracial board of directors, saying that they’re interested in having kind of racial harmony, but at the same time they’re interested in investing in politics to get more pro-business judges, more favorable regulatory decisions and more tax cuts, so they’re willing to fund this type of incredible racism and bigotry that’s been unleashed in this country to further divide folks, to get Republican voters fired up and a great degree of independent voters polarized against Democrats. And so, that’s—those are two of the dynamics that are fueling this election.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, if you’d like to respond?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, you know, I—
AMY GOODMAN: And also, this latest news: Gavin Newsom has been elected California’s next governor, handily defeating Cox, John Cox, the Republic challenger, a multimillionaire businessman and a political newcomer. You know a lot more about this, coming from California. But also, very interestingly, is this much more—a race that is much more—was much closer than anyone assumed, and that was the race between Dianne Feinstein and Kevin de León. For people in other states, explain how it works that two Democrats are running against each other for Senate.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Just so people know, Norman, before you get into that, there’s like 30 percent reporting right now in California, and Feinstein has a 53 percent-46 percent lead, but, you know, we’re talking about 200,000 votes in California, which is—you know, it’s not that big of a lead for one of the most powerful, entrenched politicians in the Senate to be facing.
AMY GOODMAN: So, about 5 percent—yeah, 5 percent difference.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Absolutely, and I would draw a comparison, although very different terrain, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing what everybody said couldn’t be done. And it was saying, “We’re going to go in, and we’re going to organize like crazy and say that the Humpty Dumptys on the wall can be taken down, who are running the Democratic Party.”
For those of us in California, we live under this idolatry, from the mass media, the state and beyond, of Dianne Feinstein. She’s been part of the cheerleading for mass surveillance, for militarism, for corporate power, for the big water interests in the state. And it’s because people organized inside the Democratic Party that she not only was denied the endorsement of the party for her re-election bid, but actually Kevin de León was endorsed instead by our statewide party meeting. So—
AMY GOODMAN: The Democratic Party of California.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yes. And the Democratic Party is actually mailing out stuff to say, “Defeat Dianne Feinstein,” which certainly was a major factor here.
There’s also something related, I think, which is, Lee wrote—co-wrote a great piece for The Intercept about a major battle that’s been going on for months in the East Bay, San Francisco area, legislative open-seat contest between a genuine progressive based in Richmond, Jovanka Beckles—has come up through this wonderful grassroots, multiparty alliance that is running in municipal elections and winning, controlling, the Chevron-fighting, anti-racism, anti-landlord Richmond Progressive Alliance, now 5-to-2 majority on the City Council, Jovanka now running for the state Assembly seat.
And The Intercept piece really strongly and beautifully documented how it’s the classic battle between Clinton-Obama people, who have been funneling millions of dollars into this astroturf candidate named Buffy Wicks—and it’s too early to know the result, but it’s the classic battle between money and power. And I would compare it to the fight that went on 30 years ago in Chicago, because you had Walter Mondale and Edward Kennedy endorsing two different opponents of a grassroots candidate named Washington, Harold Washington, and Harold Washington won. And just as then, it’s this classic battle grassroots can win, when they organize, when they fight the power.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, Lee, you’re so immersed in the daily grind of investigative journalism, and Norman was just citing one of your pieces there, but you really have been an absolute machine, not just in this election cycle, but for years. And you often are digging through documents. In fact, a lot of what you do, Lee, reminds me of what I.F. Stone used to do, where he would look for what was hidden in plain sight and then make it plain to people, using official government documents. But I’ve never heard you asked this question, Lee, and that is: In all of this muckraking that you’re doing, what is your bigger-picture analysis of what all of this means, not just this election result, but like what is happening in this country on the issues that you’re covering?
LEE FANG: Well, Jeremy, I appreciate the kind words. And, Norman, thanks for citing my piece. That East Bay race is absolutely fascinating.
You know, I want to kind of hold back, and I do have a lot of thoughts about the kind of direction of the party and of politics, more broadly, going out of this election, but I want to kind of digest more of the results, because, as I mentioned earlier, in the last hour, you know, a lot of folks are going to make broad statements, and it’s difficult to say. You know, there’s a lot of different types of candidates and different types of messages that were used for successful and unsuccessful campaigns.
We’re seeing, I think, more and more polarization in this country, that I think is very fraught. In some ways, Democrats can ride this polarization, because you’re seeing a more activist, left-wing base that can rejuvenate the party, inject some broad, universal reforms that actually help solve the big problems in society, whether it’s climate change or poverty, student or medical debt. There’s a lot of promise in this kind of rejuvenated populist base. But it also is fraught with danger, because this type of polarization is creating more extremes on the right, as well. It’s happening on both sides.
And it’s not only being fueled by dark money and these kind of attack ads that we see every election cycle; there are more fundamental shifts that are happening in society. People are getting addicted to social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook. They’re very much designed to distract and focus people’s attention, and one of the ways that they do this—and we’re seeing this not just in the U.S., but throughout Southeast Asia, throughout Africa and Latin America, where social media companies gain attention by balkanizing people, by encouraging folks to kind of stick with their tribe and attack the other tribe. And that can lead to very serious consequences in politics as both sides kind of radicalize.
You know, for the Beto O’Rourke campaign, one of the fascinating kind of things that I learned this week was that, you know, Beto raised ungodly amounts of money through a viral social media post of someone at a town hall asking him about standing or kneeling for the national anthem, what was his feeling on that. And he gave a very eloquent and long-winded response saying that, you know, we need to respect civil liberties and the right to protest, and, you know, he understands the criticism, but he agrees with the protest of the flag or the anthem. And what was interesting is that even though that raised tons of money for Beto, that question was actually planted by an operative working for Ted Cruz, because Ted Cruz understood that these kind of social questions, these questions about where you stand on patriotism or respect for the flag, that’s an issue that, although it might generate lots of campaign donations from California and New York to Beto, it’s the kind of core cultural question that drives polarization on the Republican right. And just as we’ve seen increased turnout in urban areas and in suburbs for Democrats, we’re seeing actually incredibly high turnout for Republicans in rural areas, as Republicans really understand how to gin up their base and get them out to vote. And that’s, I think, part of the story this election, where we’ve seen fairly high turnout on both sides, Democrats coming up, but also Republicans really understanding how to speak to their base.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Norman, I wanted to—oh, go ahead.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Oh, no, I was just thinking about how gruesome it is to watch Fox News, and yet how important it is, because it’s very easy for us progressives to concentrate on sources of information and discourse that we feel fairly comfortable with and that actually are rational and based on facts, but even a cursory look now and again at Fox is a real jolt, the extent to which we’re in danger in this country, for the basic possibilities of democracy in this country, that we are up against the wall—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to interrupt, because it looks like we can go to Woodside, Queens, right now, in New York City, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has just given her speech, her victory speech, becoming the youngest congresswoman ever. She bucked the system. She beat the fourth most powerful Democrat in Congress, Joe Crowley. This victory today was expected. It was a coalition of many different grassroots groups. She was a major Bernie Sanders supporter and organizer, and now has just given her speech. We–
JEREMY SCAHILL: And as we wait there for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—and we’ve said this a number of times tonight, but it’s important to remember that she took down one of the most powerful Democrats. And actually, he remained on the ballot to the—through the polls being open today, and he did have people in his camp attempting to run an insurgent campaign against her at the end. I mean, it wasn’t going to succeed, but it just shows you, you know, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not represent a powerful district in this country with huge profits flowing into the coffers of politicians, but she took down one of the most powerful, entrenched politicians in the country. And it’s a real symbolic but real victory.
AMY GOODMAN: It looks like she is standing there, just after giving her speech. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are you there? It looks like we are going to—
BRIAHNA GRAY: Hi. I am here with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her victory party. She has just set—
AMY GOODMAN: OK, it looks like—it looks like we’re going to be—
BRIAHNA GRAY: —all kinds of records as the youngest woman to win a congressional seat. She has unseated a 10-time incumbent. And I want to know, first and foremost, how are you feeling right now, at the end of a long, long night?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I feel so grateful and humbled and indebted to the movements that really stitched this campaign together and upon which it was built. So I’m so thankful and grateful and excited for the work ahead.
BRIAHNA GRAY: So, I know a lot of people are really curious about what you want to do first. Now that we have the House back, people are excited about what opportunities there are with respect to the new source of power. You’ve talked about having a Progressive Caucus and what you could do there. What do you think your first moves will be?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, in terms of how those actual steps play out, we’ll kind of feel that out day by day. But I think what needs to be a priority is that we have to make sure that we are getting progressive legislation at top of our agenda—Medicare for all, a living wage—and ensuring that we’re dealing with those basic issues.
BRIAHNA GRAY: OK. Does the outcome here today, and does your own personal victory, make you feel any sort of way about what is possible in parts of the country that have perhaps been written off, described as Trump country or red country? Do you think there’s a limit to what the progressive message can accomplish?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, I think that when we truly listen to the communities that we are running in, that we are really connecting with the everyday people on the ground, it requires a progressive message to animate a disaffected electorate that has not historically come out. And so, what I hope we learn and what I hope we adopt moving forward is to not be afraid of our values, to not be afraid of differentiating ourselves from the Republican Party, and really committing and doubling down to our vision.
BRIAHNA GRAY: I know that we also have the studio with us, and I heard there might be some questions to pose directly to Ocasio-Cortez.
AMY GOODMAN: Briahna, yes, if—Alexandria, can you hear us?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, just a little bit.
AMY GOODMAN: Fantastic. It’s Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill. How does it feel to be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, it’s a total and complete honor, and I’m just so thankful to the people and families and voters in the Bronx and Queens that entrusted me with this enormous responsibility and for having the audacity to make history, not just in electing someone of my age, but of electing someone of our platform. And I’m so thankful for that.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you plan to do? What are your first actions in Congress when you take your seat?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I’m really looking forward to seeing and kind of analyzing more of the results tonight to see what kind of team we can put together. But I think that just as we ran and just as we said, we need to focus on putting progressive legislation and priorities at the top of the agenda. I think, for me, what that means is Medicare for all, where we have built so much power, over a hundred co-sponsorships in the last two years. It’s time to make a statement and really declare this as a part of our agenda.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what your stance is on Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, what you feel needs to happen right now, you, coming out of the Bernie Sanders faction of the Democratic Party? You’re an organizer for Bernie Sanders. Who do you think needs to lead the House? And would you consider the possibility of being the speaker yourself?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. I just won my seat. But, you know, what I do think is that in terms of her leadership in context, we need to see what our options are. You know, my fear is, I just wouldn’t want to see candidates running to her right and that being our only option. So, I think that what—no matter who it is, we need to make sure that we are electing party leadership with strong commitments to putting Medicare for all, tuition-free college and more at the top of the agenda, things like a living wage. And that’s what I’m going to be looking for in terms of where we want to select our next speaker. And I know that I certainly don’t want to support anyone who doesn’t have those missions in mind.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump called tonight a success. What is your message for him?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, he’s bound to call anything a success and just kind of speak it into existence. But the fact of the matter is, we won back the House. We secured a full chamber in our government back, which is a very, very powerful check on the authoritarian creep that this administration has been pursuing. And we need to be powerful about it. We need to take this opportunity. This is not the time to negotiate with an administration that systematically and repeatedly violates human rights. This is a time for us to have a strong response and to really command the power that we secured tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on the Senate actually increasing its Republican majority?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Mm-hmm. You know, it’s very difficult, in many ways, that that’s the direction that things went. But what we also saw was that, this cycle, there were more Democratic senators that were up for re-election. And it’s really going to be 2020 that we’re going to have a slew of Republican challengers—rather, Republicans that are up for re-election, that could potentially be unseated. And what I hope we do, as a party and as a progressive movement, is that we need to really start building the movements around those challenges now, frankly. We need to start laying that groundwork, because in terms of the Senate, because of the re-election and who was up for re-election in terms of there being more Democrats, it was going to be tough. But, honestly, they had that majority before. They were putting through atrocious legislation before. They confirmed Kavanaugh. So, frankly, it’s more of the same when it comes to the Senate, but we really need to start laying the groundwork to take that chamber back in 2020.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on President Trump’s latest anti-immigrant, racist campaigning as these domestic terror attacks occurred one by one in the last week, from African Americans killed in Kentucky to the letter bombs that were sent to perhaps 14 or 15 people or institutions, to the attack on the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh? President Trump talked about terrorists coming up in a caravan, in fact, referring to immigrants, and threatening—saying that they were going to engage in illegal voting, though he had obviously no proof of this. But the assault of the last few weeks as he campaigned?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Hello?
AMY GOODMAN: Hi. Can you hear me, Alexandria?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Hello? Oh, apologies. I think the audio cut out.
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
BRIAHNA GRAY: I think we might have lost you guys.
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
BRIAHNA GRAY: So we’ll kick it back to you, but thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I know it’s been a long day. And congratulations.
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Sure, absolutely. And, you know, I tried to catch the tail end of, I believe, Amy’s question. And in terms of the response to that, you know, I do believe that our president has abdicated his responsibility as a leader of all people in the United States. He has very clearly drawn lines into which Americans he champions and which Americans he doesn’t. And that is why I feel we have a very important duty to not only fight against the spread of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, but that we need to affirmatively champion the causes of these communities and our neighbors, because this is a—this is a very dangerous time in our democracy, and this is a very dangerous administration that we cannot take for granted. And we need to make sure that we are shoring up support of these communities in very tangible ways. But thank you so, so much for being—for joining us.
AMY GOODMAN: And your message to young people, and particularly young people of color, engaging in politics and electoral politics, if Bri could say that to Alexandria?
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Pardon? Hello?
AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Alexandria, can you hear me?
BRIAHNA GRAY: We can both hear you now.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, Bri, could you ask about her message to—
JEREMY SCAHILL: She can hear you.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, Alexandria, could you—
REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your message to young people and young people of color engaging in electoral politics now, as we move into 2020?
BRIAHNA GRAY: It’s coming in and out a little bit.
AMY GOODMAN: Your message to young people tonight?
BRIAHNA GRAY: Yeah, we can’t hear you at all anymore, I’m afraid.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, OK. Well, thank you so much. Briahna Gray, we thank you so much for being there, Briahna Gray of The Intercept. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she becomes the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress. She just turned 29 years old. She will join two Native American women who have just won their seats for Congress, 100 women—it’s the first time in history that 100 women have won seats in the U.S. Congress.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, Amy, the other—another race—we’ve talked about it in passing a couple of times tonight, but Ilhan Omar is going to be a very interesting member of Congress. I mean, let’s remember, the largest concentration of Somalis in the United States is in the Twin Cities, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota. That is a community that has been—has endured sustained espionage against them, surveillance, FBI entrapment. Trump, of course, you know, called it an “s— country.” It also is one of the most violent countries in the world, Somalia, in part because of the United States’ role there and the ongoing drone attacks, the fact that you have a terrorist organization there, al-Shabab, and you have in Kenya this massive population of refugees that have come over from Somalia. And Ilhan Omar is actually very well versed in the foreign policy questions around Somalia. And I think that is going to—if she ends up on—
AMY GOODMAN: You, yourself, Jeremy, have spent time in Somalia.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I’ve spent time in Somalia, and I’ve also—I worked with Representative Keith Ellison, who may become the attorney general of Minnesota tonight. But when he was in Congress, he was one of the few members of Congress that actually paid any attention whatsoever to Somalia. And she will be taking—Ilhan Omar is taking over Keith Ellison’s seat. But if Ilhan Omar ends up on Foreign Relations Committee or Armed Services or, potentially down the line, Intelligence—I don’t think she would end up on Intelligence right away—you could have someone asking the kinds of questions that you saw when, for instance, Russ Feingold was on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate, somebody who actually understands the facts on the ground. And I think that that, the importance of having—even if there’s only a few of them, having Democrats who actually understand foreign policy and what the CIA does is a huge deal, because most of the people that understand what the CIA does are on the side of the CIA. That’s the legacy of Dianne Feinstein. Yes, when it’s politically expedient, she will stand up in public and say, “Oh, we are outraged that the CIA was spying on Senate staffers investigating the torture report!” She was one of the greatest friends to the CIA for many, many years, as she sat there in power.
And, Norman and Allan, as we now realize that the Democrats seem to be definitely taking back control of the House, it does mean that there’s subpoena power. It does mean that, in some cases, you will have interesting political figures chairing committees. One example, I spoke recently to Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia, and he is the chair of a subcommittee on Judiciary that has oversight of federal judges, including Supreme Court judges. And Hank Johnson indicated very strongly to me that he is going to immediately reopen the question of Kavanaugh and perjury. I asked him if he would also revisit the allegations against Clarence Thomas, and he kind of fumbled around and said, “Well, that’s a 27-year-old case.”
But point being, the kind of pressure that Allan was talking about, Norman has talked about, that Linda was talking about, it’s important now also, on multiple fronts, to make sure that the Democrats who are going to be chairing these committees and subcommittees actually do their jobs, use the subpoena and ask real questions. The thing is, people—Norman, you know this from spending time in Washington, and, Allan, you certainly know this from all the work you did on trying to block military funding to Indonesia—most congresspeople have a couple of kids, basically, working in their office. They don’t have huge staffs of people. And so, when well-informed individuals can present a cogent plan of action, if it’s a good-faith person in that position, you can reach them. It’s not—I mean, you know this, Allan very well. It’s not sort of pie-in-the-sky stuff.
ALLAN NAIRN: And it doesn’t even have to be a good—it doesn’t even have to be a good-faith person.
JEREMY SCAHILL: It helps, though, if they are, but yeah. You can shame them into it, too.
ALLAN NAIRN: It helps, but it’s—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah.
ALLAN NAIRN: It’s not a prerequisite.
JEREMY SCAHILL: But you get the point I’m making—
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —that, actually, it’s not just about pressuring them in elections. Now that they have won, figure out who chairs the committees on the issues that you think are important, and make it your business to try to force them to do their job.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, that is crucial. There are many things wrong with the American corporate press system. One of them is the way they cover Congress. Congress is probably the most badly covered of all the institutions of government. There’s almost—if you watch the networks, even if you read The New York Times, The Washington Post very carefully, you’ll have almost no understanding of how Congress actually operates. What’s usually said is that, well, there are a few big bills that come up, and they make decisions on those big bills: Do they pass the tax bill? Do they pass the Obamacare repeal?
What happens without notice in the press is that thousands upon thousands upon thousands of vital decisions are made by Congress every month, and they get absolutely no coverage. For example, when an authorization bill is passed, when an appropriations bill is passed, these bills are hundreds, in some cases thousands, of pages long, and every sentence matters, every word matters. Those give directions to the agencies, to the agencies of government. It’s not just the White House that runs an agency. The agency also simultaneously is taking some of its direction from Congress. And there are multiple, multiple mandates that get written into these bills by the members of Congress. That’s what they spend, or, as you were pointing out, more accurately, their staffs, because it’s the staffs who do the actual work. And so much of this stuff happens behind the scenes.
And what that means is that it’s often even more susceptible to public pressure, because you’re not—you know, there’s certain issues where the pressure from big money, from the special interests, is so immense that it’s almost impossible to overcome it. But there’s so many other things that—where it’s fought out at a subterranean level, where you’re not necessarily going to run up against that kind of opposition. And if you get to the members of Congress, if you get to the staffs, if you have hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in key districts around the country, that can be sufficient to turn a policy around. And in some senses, it’s actually easier to lobby and win in Congress than people realize. There’s tremendous potential there. And it doesn’t just depend on having good members of Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to go right now to North Dakota, because history was made in Native America. Nermeen?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids is projected to have won Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District, unseating incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder. Meanwhile, Democrat Deb Haaland has won a House seat in New Mexico. They become the first Native American women elected to Congress.
We go now to North Dakota, where we’re joined by Jenni Monet, an independent award-winning journalist who writes about indigenous rights. Jenni is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. Earlier today, Jenni Monet visited Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota to report on the problems created by North Dakota’s recently enacted strict voter ID laws, which threatened to disenfranchise Native Americans.
Welcome, Jenni, to Democracy Now! Could you give us your response to these historic wins?
JENNI MONET: Absolutely a historic day in Indian country. And I have to say, as a Pueblo of Laguna citizen, Deb Haaland makes us all very, very proud tonight, and indigenous women everywhere, I think, are feeling a sense of pride to know that not one, but two really powerful voices are going to be in Congress.
And I think what’s remarkable is that this also falls on the heels of the defeat of Heidi Heitkamp, who really has been given a lot of spotlight in the run-up to her re-election, her race to be re-elected here for the Senate, in that she fit a very important role as someone who sat on the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs, someone who had been seen as a champion for some time for Native Americans, not just here in North Dakota, but for all of Indian country. And, you know, there was a sense of kind of urgency to get those votes here in North Dakota, that had been so challenged, in her favor. But that just did not happen tonight here in North Dakota.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about where you are, in North Dakota, especially visiting Spirit Lake Tribe, what the voter suppression—how it affected Native Americans and their vote? And do you see a link between what happened to Heidi Heitkamp, who was not indigenous, was not Native American, but her defeat, a Democratic woman senator from North Dakota, and the crackdown on Native American rights? Explain what was happening with the IDs and the final decision that was made about who could vote and who couldn’t today.
JENNI MONET: Well, in large part, the voter ID law, to begin with, was seen as retaliatory, retaliatory to Heidi Heitkamp’s narrow victory in 2012 in which she narrowly squeaked by with roughly 3,000 votes. Many of those votes were from a Native American voting bloc. And it was in 2014, where a Turtle Mountain tribal citizen was turned away at the polls, that the Native American Rights Fund really got involved and started challenging this voter ID law, which still is in effect, to prove discriminatory intent. And several years later, this law has come to the fore, as we saw a month ago, ahead of the election, where the Supreme Court rejected intervening in this matter, which allowed it to take effect. And in that time, what we have seen in Indian country, I think, should make most tribal nations very proud in how tribal citizens themselves stood up to the challenge of this mandated proof of residency for Native Americans, which affected them disproportionately.
And, Amy, you asked if this has any kind of relationship to Heidi Heitkamp’s defeat tonight. I think the answer to that is yes. I think there were many challenges, that we’re starting to just realize, in the verification process of these addresses. And I could speak more to that. But also, we cannot forget that internally here in North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp—there was a sense of betrayal among Native voters for Heidi Heitkamp, who had been once so loyal to her, yet she had really turned a lot of people away with her lack of support over the Dakota Access pipeline, an epic battle, indigenous-led, here in her own state.
AMY GOODMAN: So, explain that, because that’s where so much activism and excitement, I think, on the part not only of Native Americans, but of non-Native people, too, involved with the environmental movement, inspired by the standoff at Standing Rock—Heidi Heitkamp, the senator from North Dakota’s position on Standing Rock and DAPL.
JENNI MONET: Well, the Dakota Access pipeline, that was one real motivation for me to return back here to North Dakota. I had reported, as you did, Amy, on the pipeline protests, and I actually embedded myself out here for many months. And my focus on this race, in part, was to see if there had been any kind of retaliatory intent to advance this voter ID law. And when I looked at committee meetings from the January 2007 state Legislature, indeed, the DAPL protest did come up as suspect to potential voter fraud that took place in the November 2016 election, from the droves of people who came to stand with Standing Rock. And so it did have a factor. And if we look at that retaliatory tone that existed following the 2012 victory of Heidi Heitkamp, I think that was very present in 2017, when this voter ID law was advanced again.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jenni Monet, we want to thank you for being with us, independent award-winning journalist, writes about indigenous rights. Jenni is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, speaking to us from North Dakota. Again, two Native American women, the first two Native American women to become congressmembers, happened tonight. Also, Sharice Davids, as well as Deb Haaland, Deb Haaland from New Mexico. And we will continue to cover this tomorrow morning, when we continue with our morning-after broadcast, after this historic night when 100 women have entered Congress, the first time in U.S. history. But we’re going to turn now to Wisconsin. Jeremy, you grew up and were born in Milwaukee. Let’s turn to John Nichols. Ah, we thought we had John Nichols on the line with us, but—
JEREMY SCAHILL: I can pretend to be John Nichols.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, I’m just kidding.
NORMAN SOLOMON: I have a quick point, which is that the Progressive Caucus is the largest caucus in the House of Representatives, and 12 members of that caucus will be the chairs of committees of the House come January. Thirty more of them will be chairs of subcommittees of the House.
And it goes to Jeremy’s point that they have tremendous potential, but they’re immediately going to hit headwinds of “Don’t push too far. There’s a leadership of the Democratic Party. You don’t want to rock too many boats.” And a huge mistake that was made by progressives over the eight years of the Obama administration was not pushing really hard against Democrats in Congress.
And so, we have an opportunity now, starting the beginning of January, to say, “We’re going to hold accountable everybody in Congress.” And if we helped elect them, we even have more leverage. We’ve got to hold their feet to the fire, because the leadership is going to come from the grassroots.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And historically, Norman, you know—and everyone at this table knows this well—you would hope for sort of the occasional social justice advocate, you know, someone like a Dennis Kucinich, who was always trying to fight that fight that you’re describing, and he would be relegated to holding nonofficial congressional hearings sort of in the basement somewhere. And part of what we’re seeing now—and this also cuts to Allan’s point about can the Democratic Party be taken over from within—if it’s not just sort of the lone Dennis Kucinich out there but is a whole group of people—Ralph Nader talked earlier about how the Congressional Progressive Caucus is not really a progressive caucus—but if you did have strength in numbers and there were some of these new voices who did unify together and did stake out some of these positions, that’s a totally different dynamic from just the one-off member of Congress on kind of a lone crusader operation.
And I keep going back to this point, but I think it’s a really important one. Part of how the Koch brothers have been able to influence laws across the United States—and Lee Fang has done some of the best reporting on this—is because they have these well-paid, well-resourced lobbyists who are writing complex pieces of legislation at the state level, and most state representatives, state senators, they don’t have some paid staff. So, part of it is the convenience. Part of it is that it also comes with money. But, you know, that was one of the things that I think Allan mastered in the—particularly in the '90s, where you're going after—you’re surgically going after, for instance, the foreign training and military sales to a particular government. You can win those battles. Progressives and social justice advocates can win battles. But we have to up our game and understand the policies and actually read the legislation.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, that’s one of the ways that the right has gained ground.
JEREMY SCAHILL: They own that universe.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. Oh, sorry, Amy. You were—
AMY GOODMAN: We have John Nichols now on the line from Madison, Wisconsin. John is a political writer for The Nation. He wrote the book Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America. John, we only have a minute or two, but if you can explain what’s happening right now in Wisconsin, where, according to the news reports we have, what—
JEREMY SCAHILL: It’s an extremely close race.
AMY GOODMAN: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leads by .1 percent, or about 2,400 votes, over Tony Evers, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting.
JOHN NICHOLS: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got—and remember, we’re getting different figures in different places. I’ve actually got Evers up by about 5,000 votes. And so, you know, we will watch this as the night goes on.
Here’s what we know. In a very intense race for governor—and the totals just updated again, and now Walker is up by exactly a thousand, literally, with a vote or so, so it’s essentially a tie. And we still have about 7 percent of the vote out. It is in some rural counties, which are probably likely to back Walker. There is a small percentage out in a couple of urban counties, that could be good for Evers. And again, within the counties, we don’t know exactly what town is out and what town isn’t. And so, the fact of the matter is that Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction, who has run, actually, a very progressive campaign, in a ticket with Mandela Barnes, one of the great figures in the Wisconsin uprising, a young African-American leader who’s been very active on a host of issues—they have wrestled the governor to essentially a tie. This is—
AMY GOODMAN: John, we have less than a minute.
JOHN NICHOLS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: So, if you could—and then, of course, we’ll continue to cover this tomorrow on Democracy Now!
JOHN NICHOLS: Absolutely. The one thing I will tell you is that if it keeps going this way, you’ll have a recount. Wisconsin has strong recount laws. And this is just a quite remarkable circumstance. It’s been a very long night. Tammy Baldwin won a big victory in the race for the Senate. And it’s very likely, it just appears, that Baldwin’s strong victory has helped to pull Evers along, and we will see where the final count goes.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you so much, John. John Nichols, reporting to us from Wisconsin. Yes, it’s just about 1:00 on Wednesday morning, the end of our 6-hour special election night broadcast. It’s been an historic night. Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives, flipping more than two dozen districts across the country. Meanwhile, three Democrats lost their Senate seats: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. From coast to coast, it was a night filled with firsts for women, particularly women of color. For the first time in the nation’s history, there will be more than 100 women in the U.S. House of Representatives, after a slew of women candidates won their races—among them, Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas, who made history by becoming the nation’s first Native American congresswomen. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In New York, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Democrats lost hotly contested races. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded the race to Republican Ron DeSantis in a closely watched governor’s race. In Texas, Republican Senator Ted Cruz beat out his Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is holding a sizable lead over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, who is vying to be the first African-American woman [governor] in U.S. history. That controversial race was marred by widespread allegations of voter suppression carried out by Brian Kemp as secretary of state. Many are calling on Abrams not to concede, given the widespread reports of voter suppression.
Back in Florida, voters approved a historic ballot measure to re-enfranchise 1.4 million Americans with felony convictions. Missouri and Michigan voters approved marijuana legalization measures. Massachusetts voters approved a measure to protect key rights for transgender people. Oregon voters overwhelmingly defended the state’s sanctuary laws from being repealed. And in Colorado, an anti-fracking proposition was defeated, while a pro-oil and gas amendment was also defeated. The oil and gas industry poured tens of millions of dollars into lobbying around both measures.
And that does it for our broadcast. Democracy Now! was produced by an amazing group of people. First and foremost, we want to thank Julie Crosby, Democracy Now!'s general manager, and Mike Burke, our news director. Also special thanks to Renée Feltz and Deena Guzder and Carla Wills and Laura Gottesdiener and Tami Woronoff and Sam Alcoff and John Hamilton and Robby Karran and Hany Massoud and Charina Nadura, Tey-Marie Astudillo and Libby Rainey. Mike DiFlippo and Miguel Nogueira are our engineers. Special thanks to Becca Staley and Denis Moynihan, Hugh Gran, David Prude, Ariel Boone, Vesta Goodarz, Carl Marxer; to our camera crew, Jon Randolph, Kieran Krug-Meadows, Anna Özbek and Matt Ealy; and the whole crew at The Intercept. We want to thank you all for being with us. Allan Nairn and Norman Solomon, thank you so much for staying to the end. And, Jeremy Scahill, thank you so much. And, Lee Fang, as well, thank you for being there. And Nermeen Shaikh, as well, our co-host, and, of course, Juan González and Camille Baker. That does it for the show. I'm Amy Goodman, with Jeremy Scahill and Nermeen Shaikh, for a remarkable evening. Thank you so much.
[End of Hour 6]